Schools move toward regionalized system

Anne Marie Amacher
Fifth-graders Payten Pape and Luke Jobgen work on vocabulary at John F. Kennedy Catholic School in Davenport.

By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

DAVENPORT — A new strategic plan for a regionalized system of Scott County Catholic schools is moving forward. The new system does not include school closings or mergers, said Andy Craig, president of Assumption High School in Davenport and a strategic plan co-leader.

School leaders and consultants held more than 50 meetings, including three town halls, this year to gather input from school board members, teachers, administrators, pastors, parents and parishioners. Nine parishes financially support the Catholic schools of Assumption High School in Davenport and All Saints, John F. Kennedy and St. Paul the Apostle elementary schools in Davenport and Lourdes elementary in Bettendorf. The planning committee has been working with Meitler Consulting Group.

A Dec. 2 press release states that the strategic plan for Catholic school education for the entire diocese is to “remain relevant, valuable, competitive and effective for the church, our families and society.”

Over the next two to three years, committees will form to make the move to the regionalized system, Craig said. The plan “will ensure Catholic identity and faith formation are strong in the mission of making disciples who will encounter Jesus, grow in their knowledge and serve God and neighbor.”

At present, the five schools work as “individual units.” The new structure will allow them to work together. As part of the plan, an enrollment management program will market and brand the schools. Academic programs will capitalize on the strengths of a pre-kindergarten-12th grade program and enrichment opportunities.

“This new model … must fit the culture and values of Catholics and other Catholic school stakeholders in Scott County,” the release states. It will build upon the strengths of the existing schools and attain the following benefits:

• Improved efficiencies and resource sharing.
• Enhanced program offerings.
• Increased professional development opportunities.
• Pastors able to focus more on spiritual direction and pastoral leadership for their school.
• School administrators able to focus more on their school’s educational needs and development of their staff.
• Common tuition.
• Common compensation and benefits.
• Enhanced ability for managing enrollment through marketing, branding, recruitment and retention.
• Larger funding opportunities.
• Tuition that better matches the actual cost of education for a child with expanded tuition assistance to keep it affordable for all.
• Reasonable and affordable parish subsidies due to increased revenue stream for the overall system from other resources.

Craig said the current process has been in the works for two years. “We needed to frame what our challenges are in order to have a starting point.”

After holding meetings and receiving approval from the Scott County pastors, this new plan will get under way in early 2020. “This is a process,” Craig said.

The next step is to put together groups of people with specialization in the various positions such as marketing and finance. Those groups of people will put together job descriptions and goals for the new positions over the next year or so.

Craig said he and Rosie Barton, his strategic plan co-leader, continue to talk with other Catholic schools throughout Iowa and the U.S. about their regionalized systems. They have talked with representatives from several systems. Some of those ideas could work and others likely would not fit Scott County.

“We are moving forward to have a system that centralizes many structures and everyone gets to keep their names and identity,” Craig said. “We administrators will have to give up some control — it will be tough — but this will benefit everyone.”

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