By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
Educators, parents, pastors, parishioners and others will be able to give their thoughts about the future of Catholic education in the Diocese of Davenport in the coming months.
Lee Morrison, diocesan superintendent of Catholic schools, said a strategic plan for Catholic education is getting under way. “We want to identify the challenges that are being faced right now in 2014 and what we think they will be in the next decade. We are going to look at salaries of Catholic school educators compared to their public school counterparts. We will look at enrollment trends today, five years ago and if possible the past five decades.” He said financial health, building conditions/space and other issues will be addressed.
Bishop Martin Amos said, “Strategic planning isn’t for a crisis situation. It is a way to really look at one’s self and look forward. Catholic education is so important in the mission of the Church and needs to look forward pro-actively.”
Dan Ebener, diocesan director of stewardship and parish planning, is helping with the process. “As part of my position I help the diocese with planning for the future. I have worked with the chancery and several parishes. I offered to help with the Catholic schools,” added Ebener, who also helps with strategic planning for non-Catholic entities.
As part of the process, surveys or focus groups will be conducted with different groups to gain information. Surveys will be done online or through focus groups, Morrison noted.
On Nov. 18 a strategic planning session will be held at St. Patrick Church in Iowa City. Morrison said participants will discuss the planning process and planning assumptions, identify mandates and non-negotiables, analyze data, look at an environmental assessment, identify critical issues and determine next steps that need to be taken. The group also will look at the National Standards of Catholic Schools.
“You can’t move forward without a plan,” Morrison said.
Planning for this process began in October 2013. Morrison said he read strategic plans from about 50 different dioceses across the U.S. Then he and other Davenport Diocese leaders who’ve been working on strategic planning decided to have a plan for Catholic schools in place by June 2015, if possible. Input has already been received from administrators of the Catholic schools and planners.
Morrison identified some of the challenges that need to be addressed: enrollment trends, parish subsidies, teacher salaries, technology in Catholic schools and revenue sources.
After a first draft is completed with challenges and goals identified, Morrison said the next step would be an action plan by February, a finalized plan by April, and possible implementation by June 1.
“We have pastors with Catholic schools and all the principals involved. Each parish school is to have a representative of a parent or staff member as part of the process,” he said.
Morrison anticipates the final plan will address Catholic identity, operational vitality, academic excellence, governance and facilities.
“This is an exciting time for Catholic education,” he said. “We want to make Catholic education affordable and accessible to those who want to send their children to Catholic schools. It’s important to be a vibrant system with a vision for the future. We are taking active steps to get there.”