||A teacher reads to 4K and 5K children at St. John the Baptist School, Princeton. (Contributed photo)
MADISON -- The new strategic plan for Catholic schools in the diocese has been completed after over 18 months of work and the involvement of hundreds of people from throughout the diocese. The plan, entitled Catholic Schools: Our Faith, Our Future, details specific strategies for meeting the critical challenges faced by our schools.
The strategies are broad in scope and point the direction that the schools must move in order to successfully meet the challenges. Due to varying realities in schools and clusters throughout the diocese, the strategies do not provide explicit steps that each school and cluster must take. Rather, they point the direction in which we must move to achieve our goals, provide strategic action steps to begin moving in that direction, and allow the clusters and schools in collaboration with the diocese to create the particular means by which we will meet these goals.
Trusting in the Spirit
Each strategy detailed in the plan is prioritized with timelines for beginning and completing work. As the strategies are broad and many, implementing them will require work of three distinct groups, a) the diocese, b) the clusters, and c) the schools. Accordingly, each strategy contains specific “strategic action steps” for each group so they can begin to work together toward implementation and reaching our goals.
These “strategic action steps” will serve to help begin to implement each strategy while coordinating the work among the three groups so that they are working together, in unison and collaboration toward the achievement of the same goals. Strategies will be addressed according to their priority, with the primary direction to begin working on a given strategy coming from the diocese. This will help to ensure coordination at all levels.
As schools planning is an important element of the directives issued by the bishop through Trusting in the Spirit, it is integral to the parish planning process. The schools plan and strategies are therefore integrated into the parish planning. Specific cluster directives regarding when and how to implement schools strategies will be communicated through the current parish planning effort conducted by the Office of Planning.
Content of the Strategies
The strategies fall into the four specific planning areas that were defined during the planning process: 1) Catholic Leadership, 2) Academic Curriculum, 3) Enrollment Management, and 4) Fiscal Stewardship. Certain strategies also address the process as a whole. While the total plan is too large to reproduce here, some of the key elements are as follows:
• Diocesan offices commit time and resources to the ongoing implementation of the plan.
• All clusters provide schools oriented persons to serve on the Cluster Implementation Team.
• Clusters will establish Enrollment Management and Development Teams (EMDT) to better promote and market the school and attract and retain students. The diocese will provide resources and training to assist in this effort.
• Indicators of Excellence will be created and implemented to ensure a commitment to ongoing improvement in all Catholic schools in each of the four planning areas.
• Shared Financial Support — new financial models will be determined whereby all parishes in the diocese contribute financially to Catholic schools.
• In order to ensure the sustainability of Catholic schools, new sources of revenue will be explored.
• Standards of Financial Health for Catholic Schools will be created to help schools maintain sound fiscal stewardship.
• Focused development efforts will be undertaken at the cluster level and supported by the diocese.
• Programs will be created to ensure that teachers and principals receive ongoing professional development in both faith and pedagogy.
• A leadership succession program will be created to help each school identify potential leaders and prepare them to be Catholic school principals.
• The Diocesan Curriculum Standards will be reviewed and revised.
• School curricula will be aligned with the Diocesan Curriculum Standards through a process facilitated by the Office of Catholic Schools.
While the above items are a sketch of some of the strategies, the entire plan may be viewed on the Schools pages of the diocesan Web site at www.madisondiocese.org As we work together toward the implementation of these strategies, we move forward to securing the future of our Catholic schools and ensuring that future generations will be able to receive an excellent education in the faith and academics.
As always, thank you for reading this column and may God continue to bless you and your families.
Michael Lancaster is the superintendent of Catholic schools for the Diocese of Madison.