Strategic plan moving ahead to improve schools

jan_lancaster    Dear Catholic Community,
    Two years ago, we began the process of creating a strategic plan to shape the future of our family of Catholic schools.  Many questions have been asked about the status of this plan, so I would like to take this opportunity to let you know what we have done, where we stand and where we are going.
What have we done?
    Over the last two years, the archdiocese has worked diligently to engage all stakeholders in creating this plan, gathering tremendous amounts of data about our schools and communities. A brief look at the timeline will emphasize the collaborative nature of this undertaking:
    ➤ April and June 2011: Under the direction of Drs. John Convey and Len DiFiore of Catholic University, problem-solving meetings were held across the archdiocese.
    ➤ September 2011: Surveys were distributed to all parish and school families.
    ➤ October 2011 through February 2012: The Strategic Planning Committee, appointed by Archbishop Gregory Aymond, compiled and analyzed the data, giving committee members the opportunity to recommend solutions to the challenges facing Catholic schools.
    ➤ March 2012: Town hall meetings were held throughout the archdiocese to discuss the recommendations. With additional data from these meetings, a proposed plan began to emerge.
    ➤  June 2012: The committee’s final recommendations were presented to Archbishop Aymond. The archbishop was impressed with the document and the recommendations, but realizing the importance of these issues asked for even more input from the people of the archdiocese. That leads to the next question.
Where do things stand?
     In September, the archbishop and Office of Catholic Schools met with clergy, religious superiors and school leaders asking for input on the proposed plan. A large majority of the leaders agreed on 140 of the 150 recommendations, with a renewed emphasis on Catholic Identity having the highest consensus. The two areas warranting more consideration are grade-level structure – meaning the various grade levels at which schools begin and end – and finances, focusing on realistic ways of keeping Catholic education affordable for families.  
    Information is being compiled on recent trends across the country, with an emphasis on what this information says is best for our children.
Where are we going?
     In December, the Office of Catholic Schools will release different models of grade configurations to the religious and school leaders of our community. We will send letters home to parents, and we will post these models on our website and ask for input. Once we’ve received more information, the Archbishop will consult again with the Office of Catholic Schools and final decisions will be made.
    Archbishop Aymond and the Office of Catholic Schools have created a Finance Committee made up of clergy, school leaders and representatives of the office to help fine-tune recommendations and determine which can be best implemented.  
    Once all input has been gathered and decisions have been made, the final strategic plan for the Archdiocese of New Orleans Catholic schools will be released in Spring 2013. None of the recommendations in the plan regarding finances and grade configuration will be implemented for the 2013-14 school year.  
Will any schools be merged next school year?
    School mergers for the 2013-14 school year will be announced in the first week of December 2012.  I have met with all school administrators to discuss the details and explanations of the proposed closures.
    This has truly been a collaborative effort. We have embarked upon this journey together; we are building our Strategic Plan hand in hand, and I thank everyone who has been a part of the process. As we move forward, I pray we will continue to work together to make our family of Catholic schools the best it can be to serve the young church of our archdiocese.

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