Aurora, Rockford Groups Aim to Strengthen Catholic Education
By Penny Wiegert, Editor
August 31, 2017

DIOCESE—Pastors, principals, parish council members, education commission and parish and school finance council members in two areas of the Rockford Diocese have come together to work on the future of Catholic schools there.

In Aurora, Our Lady of Good Counsel, Sacred Heart, St. Joseph, St. Mary, St. Nicholas, St. Peter, and St. Therese of Jesus parishes and their respective schools have come together to form a Faith Forward Aurora Task Force to evaluate ways in which the schools and parishes can collaborate and consolidate resources to strengthen Catholic education for students both now and in the future.

Meanwhile, in Rockford, pastors, principals, parish council, education commission and parish and school finance council members from the Cathedral of St. Peter, St. Bernadette and St. James Parishes have formed a Joint School Committee to do the same.

Both the Faith Forward Aurora Task Force and the Rockford Joint School Committee sent letters to parents and parishioners in late August updating them on the overall goals and progress of their respective groups.

The three Rockford Catholic schools sent a letter on Aug. 21 while a similar letter was sent to all parents and parishioners of the seven Aurora parishes Aug. 30.  

Both the Aurora and Rockford groups have been meeting since early June this year. So far the groups report that they have started:

–Assessing facilities and finances of each school to determine combined resources and obligations.

–Identifying ways to enhance the educational program so children have a strong foundation in the Catholic faith and the skills necessary for success.

–Investigating ways to maintain an affordable tuition while offering a quality Catholic education.

Both Aurora and Rockford groups are still early in their processes but report there are no changes at any of the schools for the 2017-18 school year.

In Aurora:

–“The Task Force is considering various models of collaboration, including consolidating into one school with two campuses. The one-school, multi-campus model is one that has been successfully implemented in other regions around the nation, yet there is much to be done, and many decisions still to be made as we consider this and other alternatives,” it’s letter said.

– The Task Force has established a dedicated website to keep parish and school families informed and provide ways for them to participate during the process. Their official website is www.faithforwardaurora.org.

In Rockford:

– Larson and Darby, a Rockford based architecture firm nationally recognized for their work with schools around the nation, has been hired to assess and report on each school’s physical plant.

Both groups will be soliciting input, feedback and involvement from their parish and school families as they continue to collect more information, review alternatives and develop recommendations for the vision of the Catholic schools in their respective areas.

Both groups have also committed to sharing information regularly through the communication channels at all their schools and parishes.

“While it is still early, the Faith Forward Aurora Task Force and the Rockford Joint School Committee are making great progress in developing a specific vision for Catholic education that will be uniquely strong for serving their communities,” said Michael Kagan, superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Rockford.

“It is truly a grassroots effort in both Aurora and Rockford to work on the challenges facing our Catholic schools today and in the years to come,” he said.