School planning underway Print
Our Catholic Schools
Thursday, Nov. 06, 2008 -- 12:00 AM

Our Catholic Schools by Michael LancasterThe Steering Committee (for Comprehensive Schools Planning) met for a second time on October 14 and assembled in four teams, each of which will lead one of the four areas of our study and planning.

Catholic Leadership

The first area is Catholic Leadership. This area will study issues including:

  • Catholic school identity and mission
  • Transmission of the faith to students
  • How best to attract and retain quality Catholic leaders in our schools including principals, teachers, education commission members, staff, and volunteers.
  • Catholic school connection to the faith life of families
  • Catholic school support of parish life
  • Catholic school spiritual and faith life connecting to curricular, co-curricular, and extra-curricular aspects of students’ experience.
Regional Gatherings:
Catholic Schools Planning Process
  • Tuesday, Nov. 11 — St. Joseph Parish, Ft. Atkinson, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 11 — St. Mary Parish, Platteville, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Nov. 12 — Bishop O’Connor Center, Madison, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Fiscal Stewardship

The second planning area concerns Fiscal Stewardship. This area includes:

  • School budgets
  • The establishment of a formal development plan for schools
  • Human resources — just wages and benefits for teachers, administrators, and staff
  • Annual funds, endowments, and capital campaigns
  • The affordability of tuition and the perceived vs. real value of tuition
  • Providing financial assistance
Academic Curriculum

The third planning area of Academic Curriculum includes:

  • Measuring student success
  • Teacher credentialing, professional development, and continuing education
  • Student to teacher ratios
  • Integration of technology into the curriculum
  • Integration of the faith into all curricular areas
  • Pre-school, early childhood, and four year old kindergarten programs
  • Addressing special needs for both gifted and academically challenged students
Enrollment Management

Finally, the fourth planning area of Enrollment Management includes:

  • Statistical enrollment trends in the Diocese of Madison
  • Why some families choose Catholic schools and others do not
  • Strategic use of financial assistance
  • The use of technology in marketing and recruitment
  • Human resources needed to support enrollment
  • Retention of students and families
  • Marketing
Regional gatherings

We are fortunate to have many dedicated people, from many corners of the diocese, assisting us with this study by serving as members of the steering committee. This work, however, cannot be accomplished solely through the efforts of only a few. It requires all of us working together.

Throughout this process there will be many opportunities for involvement. The first of these opportunities are at the three regional gatherings in November. These gatherings are an opportunity for everyone to learn more details about the planning process and to immediately get involved by providing important information and feedback which will guide our work.

Catholic schools are of tremendous value. Not only do they impact the lives of all the students, who in turn work to improve society, they are crucial to the future of our Church. According to the survey, "Sacraments Today: Belief and Practice Among U.S. Catholics," conducted in February 2008 by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University, Catholics who have attended Catholic schools are significantly more likely to be active in practice of the faith, including reception of the sacraments.

The students of today are the parishioners of tomorrow. Please attend one of the regional gatherings and help us make a difference in the future of Catholic education.

As always, thank you for reading and may God continue to bless you and your families.

Michael Lancaster is the superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Madison.