From Commission Co-Chairs: John McMahon and Karen Rauenhorst

On April 18, 2011, the Catholic Schools Commission reviewed input from the 8 focus group meetings which took place in February – April. Commission also reviewed and discussed draft recommendations from 3 of the Commission’s 4 committees. Below is a summary of discussion at this meeting.



  1. Focus groups –There were 8 focus groups, participated in by 24 school principals/presidents, 9 pastors, 6 business administrators as well as teachers, marketing directors/committee members, parish finance council members, school council members, school benefactors and parents. Overarching themes from the eight focus groups held between February and April:
    • There needs to be a clear message from the Archdiocese that Catholic schools are a priority.
    • Some central services or standards-making are acceptable and perhaps needed if local need/benefit is there and input opportunity is given.
    • We have to identify high-leverage support opportunities for the schools.
    • We need to fix the money problem or nothing else matters.
    • The current model of one parish/one school is not working in some places; we need to utilize a variety of different/complementary models.
  2. Web surveys—The first web survey went live on April 29. It will remain online until the end of the day on May 12th. This particular survey is focused on financial issues and relates to the work of the Funding Models Committee. Pastors, school principals/presidents, parish business administrators, and parish finance council members were invited via email to take part in this first survey. Several more surveys, each identified for certain groups of school leaders and stakeholders, will be carried out over the coming weeks.
  3. Information collected via comments made to We have received many very insightful and useful comments and suggestions that we are incorporating into the Commission’s work. We encourage all school stakeholders to share their comments at Committees are drafting recommendations now so now is a great time to provide input.


  1. Branding firm is reviewing data and identifying any additional necessary research to help develop messaging for Catholic schools.
  2. The Advancement Committee will be the final committee to develop recommendations; branding initiative will continue into the 2011-2012 school year.


  1. Commission reviewed a draft recommendation for a viability rubric which identifies ten elements of successful Catholic schools which align with Strategic Plan criteria; MNSAA was consulted in the development of the rubric; the rubric is intended as a tool for school leaders.
  2. Commission discussed draft assessment principles recommendation from the committee. Recommendation is tabled until next Commission meeting. The committee continues to work toward developing a proposal to meet the needs of students, schools and the Archdiocese.


  1. Commission reviewed draft recommendations related to templates for financial planning and reporting and best practices related to planning, reporting and analysis of financials.
  2. Commission discussed a draft recommendation regarding tuition-setting best practices, with a particular focus on more uniform calculation of cost per student and communication with stakeholders regarding the cost of education.
  3. Commission discussed a draft recommendation regarding potential changes to method of distribution of financial aid which comes through the Archdiocese.


  1. Commission approved a recommendation related to the charter and membership profile for Archdiocesan Catholic Schools Advisory Council.
  2. Commission approved a recommendation related to best practices, roles, responsibilities and membership for individual school advisory boards.

We continue to ask for input and participation in this important process. You may email your comments, concerns or questions at any time to