Diocesan School Planning on Track
By Penny Wiegert, Editor
January 12, 2017

DIOCESAN—The Faith Forward: Building Our Blueprint for Catholic Schools strategic plan has taken another step toward completion.

But more importantly, according to superintendent of Catholic Schools Mike Kagan, the groundwork is being laid  to put some of the goals and strategies outlined in the plan to work.

“As Bishop Malloy said months ago, ‘the idea of having a plan was not to just say, “Oh, this is nice,” and put it on the shelf.’ We cannot continue doing business as usual.

“We have to plan for the future to address the declining enrollment numbers, parish subsidies that fall into deficit spending and shrinking populations in many areas of this diocese,” Kagan said.

As 2017 begins, the plan is going through final edits before it is officially presented for acceptance by Bishop David Malloy.

The four parts of the plan are:

n Mission and Catholic identity;

n Governance and Leadership;

n Academic Excellence; and

n Operational Vitality.

In order to put the plan to work, some administrative requirements need to be addressed, Kagan said.

For example, Kagan said, “With very specific goals and strategies toward financial vitality, enrollment management, professional development, communication and marketing of our Catholic schools, we faced the very stark reality that we do not have the staff expertise to undertake most of what will be required to accomplish the needs presented in the strategic plan.”

The diocesan Catholic schools administration consists of one superintendent, an assistant superintendent and three support staffers.

The office needs help to communicate throughout the diocese. Such duties have been handled by the diocesan director of communication.

In the next four months, Kagan said there will be parent meetings in three areas of the diocese to share some key observations made in the strategic plan and to develop ways to use the plan in the Aurora, Rockford and Elgin areas.

So to begin communicating what needs to be done to accomplish the goals and strategies set forth in the Faith Forward plan, the Diocese of Rockford has secured the services of Chartwell Agency of Rockford to assist in some communication and marketing needs until additional staff can be added.

In the meantime, Kagan is working toward adding two positions to Catholic education on the diocesan level. They would include:

n A full-time assistant superintendent in charge of professional development and grants; and

n A full-time marketing, development and enrollment manager to be responsible for creating a diocesan-wide marketing plan for Catholic schools and to help indvidual schools promote themselves and seek funding.

What’s next

Beginning in February, meetings for parents and school personnel will be set up in three areas of the diocese — Rockford, Aurora, and Elgin — to present data relevant to the parishes and schools in each area. The meetings will be conducted in English and Spanish as needed.

Tom Heding of the Meitler Group will present enrollment trends, scatter maps and financial data. Parents will  then be asked to discuss three key questions about how to re-envision the Catholic schools in their areas.

“The parent meetings will be the next very important step in guiding our Catholic schools to a strong and vibrant future which of course, is key to a strong and vibrant Catholic Church. This really is about taking the faith forward,” Kagan said.

See the Faith Forward document in English and Spanish at www.rockforddiocese.org. Click on the Faith Forward logo on the left hand side of the diocesan home page.