Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis
The Catholic schools of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis form students to live out the Gospel message, achieve academic excellence, and lead by faith, virtue, and reason.
On August 11, 2011 the work of the Catholic Schools Commission culminated in initiatives aimed at reinvesting in schools throughout this local Church. These initiatives will strengthen schools for this generation and generations to come and focus on four areas: governance, educational excellence, advancement, and funding models. All work is infused with a strong sense of Catholic identity which is central to all Catholic schools and a core to our mission.
A core outcome of the Commission was the establishment of the Archdiocesan Catholic Schools Advisory Council, which serves as an advisory body to the Archbishop and provides guidance and support to the Office of Catholic Schools.
Just as the initiatives outlined in the Strategic Plan in October 2010, these efforts are aimed at a culture of increased collaboration, ongoing evaluation, and greater accountability
Archbishop Nienstedt clearly stated his vision for schools (pdf) in this Archdiocese on August 11, 2011, “Our overall goal must include more than an excellent education in reading, writing, math, and science. It must aim at more than the development of personal character through social relationships, successful sports teams, creative arts, and service projects. The overall goal for all Catholic schools is to prepare young men and young women to be virtuous disciples of Christ and, as such, to be active leaders in our Catholic Church as well as our civic communities; bringing their gifts of faith and reason to the issues and challenges of our world today. Guiding us to this goal is a vibrant and cohesive vision which we affirm anew today: The Catholic schools of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis form students to live out the Gospel message, achieve academic excellence, and lead by faith, virtue, and reason.”
The Archbishop also declared a firm commitment to Catholic schools, “As our Catholic schools are an indispensible tool for the mission of the Church, I believe that this entire local Church should share responsibility for supporting our Catholic schools.”
The Catholic Schools Commission was established in January 2011 to build upon the work done over the past two years by the Archdiocesan Strategic Planning Task Force and the Alliance for Catholic Education consultants from the University of Notre Dame. The Commission engaged with stakeholders across the Archdiocese throughout its work. Consultation opportunities included focus groups, meetings, and web surveys participated in by more than 3,000 school and parish leaders, parents, teachers, and others.
Catholic Schools Commission Recommendations Summary
Full CSC Recommendations Summary with expanded information about the recommendations (pdf).
Governance: Summary of Issues and Highlights of Recommendations
Without a strong champion for the identification and implementation of best practice, we are now burdened in our decentralized Catholic school system with dozens of variations on school governance structures which confuse the pastor’s role and fail to engage the laity in an appropriate and effective manner. This multiplicity of governance structures has led to inefficiencies and isolation. The Office of Catholic Schools would benefit greatly from an advisory body skilled in strategic planning and the sharing of best practices, as well as focused on fostering a culture of ongoing evaluation and greater accountability. Finally, the Office of Catholic Schools itself needs reinvigoration to empower it to address declining enrollment with new tools and resources and partnering with schools to proclaim and deliver on the promise of Catholic schools: our next generation of Church and civic leaders who have been formed to live out the Gospel message of Jesus Christ.
- Charter and membership profile for Archdiocesan Catholic Schools Advisory Council
- Best practices, roles, responsibilities, and membership for:
- Individual Catholic School Advisory Councils
- Consolidated School Advisory Councils
- Framework and operating principles for Catholic schools’ relationship with parishes and Office of Catholic Schools
- Staffing requirements in Office of Catholic Schools going forward
Recommendation 1: An Archdiocesan Catholic Schools Advisory Council should be established to be a visible and supportive leader for the Catholic schools of our Archdiocese.
Recommendation 2: All parish schools should establish a school advisory council to advise the pastor and the principal in the governance of the school.
Recommendation 3: There should be clear roles and responsibilities outlined for the parties involved in the governance of consolidated Catholic schools in order to enhance the schools’ capabilities and long-term viability.
Recommendation 4: The Archdiocese should adopt Operating Principles which outline the manner in which the local school operations, the parishes, the Office of Catholic Schools, and other Archdiocesan staff with school-related responsibilities will collaborate, support, and be accountable to each other in order to advance Catholic schools in the Archdiocese.
Recommendation 5: The Archdiocese should adopt the Model for the Archdiocesan Office of Catholic Schools in order to solidify the office’s leadership role in the renewal and advancement of our Catholic schools.
Educational Excellence: Summary of Issues and Highlights of Recommendations
Due to the decentralized nature of Catholic schools within the Archdiocese, there are diverse curriculums and testing models. Today, potential Catholic school parents are, by and large, as concerned about academic excellence as they are about Catholic formation and spiritual life. Parents want to know schools assess student achievement; growth and progress to ensure children are assisted in reaching their full academic potential. Additionally, many benefactors want to see comparative data when making their gift decisions. Therefore, it is essential that Catholic schools have a uniform assessment system, including uniform standardized tests, that addresses these needs. It is recognized that there are not currently Archdiocese-wide learning standards aligned to locally-established curriculum, which can lead to inconsistencies between schools and inefficiencies. It is also recognized that parish and school leaders need assistance in recruiting the right principal for their school, and that principals/presidents and teachers desire more development opportunities.
Educational Excellence Committee Deliverables:
- Characteristics of successful Catholic schools, possibly including articulated points around Catholic identity
- Best practices process for principal and teacher recruitment, selection, development, and assessment
- Identification of key components of archdiocesan learning standards to guide curriculum, and proposed implementation process (noted from outset as needing to be carried forward by the Archdiocesan Catholic Schools Advisory Council)
- Balanced and uniform assessment requirements, as well as a recommended phase-in process
Educational Excellence Committee Recommendations:
Recommendation 1: Office of Catholic Schools should establish benchmarks for addressing school vitality and viability for all elementary schools to support a culture of continuous improvement and ongoing renewal within the schools.
Recommendation 2: Professional development related to the role and mission of Catholic schools and their operation and governance should be provided to seminarians and priests. Furthermore, it is recommended that the Archbishop assign pastors with expertise or high interest in schools as pastors/canonical administrators.
Recommendation 3: Office of Catholic Schools develops and employs a professional growth and evaluation tool for principals/presidents.
Recommendation 4: Office of Catholic Schools organizes and supports ongoing professional development and learning communities for all school administrators and teachers that enhances professional practices and aligns with diocesan strategic initiatives.
Recommendation 5: To continue to attract qualified and effective principals, it is critical to have an effective principal recruiting and hiring process. It is recommended that the Office of Catholic Schools work with pastors and school leadership in the process of principal selection, recruitment, and hiring.
Recommendation 6: By July 1, 2015, all current principals and teachers have a current up-to-date Minnesota Department of Education license or equivalent. Also, all newly hired principals and teachers have three years, from their date of employment, to attain their Minnesota Department of Education license or equivalent for their position. Also, it is expected the hiring process strongly emphasizes the recruitment of practicing Catholics who understand and accept the teachings of the Catholic Church and the moral demands of the Gospel. (See Recommendation 6, Appendix 1, Catholic Identity Standards Final Draft) Non-Catholics are only hired for compelling reasons and never as teachers of religion. Furthermore, school administrators (president, principal, assistant principal, etc.) are active, practicing Catholics who understand and accept the teachings of the Catholic Church and the moral demands of the Gospel.
Recommendation 7: The Office of Catholic Schools (OCS), through a collaborative process, should develop a comprehensive, multi-variant evaluation process that promotes best practices and a holistic look at K-8 schools using existing and new tools and programs. This evaluation should be ongoing to promote continuous improvement and should include the evaluation of school performance (e.g., accreditation, Catholic identity), principal and teacher performance, and student performance.
Advancement: Summary of Issues and Highlights of Recommendations
Leadership at many Catholic schools is ill equipped to effectively market the value of their schools. This is due to the lack of professional expertise and the absence of available revenue to fund creative efforts and access vehicles for sharing the message. The need, however, for marketing is more important than ever for several reasons: a continuing decline in enrollment during the past decade and in light of a decline in the belief that the entire Catholic community should support Catholic schools because of their fundamental value to the future health of the Church.
Advancement Committee Deliverables:
- Specifics of a comprehensive branding, messaging, and marketing plan for schools in the Archdiocese
- Template and plan for individual schools to incorporate comprehensive branding tailored to individual schools
Advancement Committee Recommendation:
Recommendation 1: The Archdiocese, through the Office of Catholic Schools and the Office of Communications and with the assistance of outside firms as needed, should execute a marketing and branding plan. This plan should include an archdiocesan-level marketing initiative along with a toolkit for individual school implementation which each school should be encouraged to use to improve marketing efforts at the local level.
Funding Models: Summary of Issues and Highlights of Recommendations
The average, adjusted cost of education per student at Catholic schools throughout the Archdiocese is $5,237. The average tuition revenue per student at Catholic schools throughout the Archdiocese is $3,377. That leaves an average gap between cost of education and tuition per student of $1,860. The remaining total cost of education not covered by tuition comes to more than $30 million annually. That gap is covered by parish subsidy (intentional and unintentional), grants and gifts, endowments, local fundraising and financial support through the Archdiocese and other sources.
Due to the revenue shortfall, schools and parishes have taken increasingly drastic approaches to meet budget which have resulted in donor fatigue, reduction of capital reserves, delayed facility investment, and other concerns. Adding to the challenge is the use of a variety of charts of accounts among parishes and schools, resulting in lack of clarity about the true cost of Catholic school education. Moreover, it is recognized that parishes without a school must do more to support Catholic schools.
Funding Models Committee Deliverables
- Specific components of a sustainable funding model for schools including: template for expenses, level of investment from parish, diversified funding sources, and level of annual Archdiocesan support
- Metrics dashboard of key indicators of financial health and process to gather data
- Standards for individual school financial practices and procedures including: data collection and reporting, enrollment management, financial aid guidelines
- Specific strategies to pursue for revenue enhancements and cost reductions
Funding Models Committee Recommendations
Recommendation 1: Consolidate archdiocesan support (Assessment, CSA, CCF, new Foundation) for schools/students to a coordinated transparent function that provides coordination, monitoring, measurement, and reporting to all stakeholders. The granting philosophy should be to move K-8 support from block grants to schools to primarily student-based financial aid. While specific school level support will be made in certain instances, the vast majority of aid will go to students. Aid should be provided to students across the Archdiocese based on a financial need assessment approach to be developed and which will include family needs, community resources, and school finances. This will be phased in by the 2013-2014 academic year. Metrics and functions of qualifying schools will be articulated by June 1, 2012.
Recommendation 2: Catholic schools are an important ministry of our local Church and are the responsibility of all parishes in the Archdiocese. We recommend that through the assessment process, the amount of aid for students across the Archdiocese significantly expand over the next five years, and that the assessment levy be altered (through another process) to include a component related to supporting Catholic schools for those parishes without a school. In addition, we recommend that the level of Catholic Services Appeal (CSA) support continue to be in the 20-25% range.
Recommendation 3: Increase the amount of financial resources from outside the Archdiocese that would be available primarily for student assistance at Catholic schools across the Archdiocese.
Recommendation 4: Deploy a uniform accounting and reporting methodology that will strengthen school management capabilities. The goal is to move to a consistent financial model that emphasizes transparency into per student costs, including an intentional plan to communicate that true cost of education with stakeholders, as well as transparency into levels of financial support from the parish and barriers/gaps to achieving a balanced budget.
Recommendation 5: Centrally coordinated means of enhancing revenue and reducing costs are necessary.