December 2019 – Special Edition

Fr. Jake’s Announcement Regarding the Development of a Regionalized Catholic School System in Scott County

The below is copied from this weekend’s announcement from Fr. Jake:

Development of a Regionalized Catholic School System in Scott County Receives Endorsement

Over the last two years, OLV and the nine parishes supporting Scott County Catholic Schools (Assumption, All Saints, JFK, Lourdes, and St. Paul’s), have been working with consultants to study how the Catholic Schools in Scott County could increase our cooperation as we look towards the future.  This planning effort was in support of the Strategic Plan for Catholic School Education for the entire Diocese of Davenport, which challenges all Catholic schools in our diocese to “remain relevant, valuable, competitive and effective for the Church, our families, and society.”  Furthermore, there were some important assumptions that were also held throughout this process.  First, each school has an important history that must be honored. Second, each school has strengths that parishes and families cherish in their lives.  Third, each school has some challenges that will have to addressed as we move into the future.

After many meetings and conducting a thorough analysis of data and trends from the schools, parishes, and Scott County in general, it has been concluded that the future of the five schools looks brighter if some resources, human and capital, are shared among all Catholic Schools in Scott County.  The conclusion of this strategic planning is, thus, the following goal:   Over the next two to three years, there will be movement towards a regionalized Catholic school system, PreK-12, with the following features aimed at helping every parish and school in Scott County:

  • An inspired plan will be developed that 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.
  • An enrollment management program will be created that markets and brands schools that have the staff and resources needed to execute the mission of Catholic education at the highest possible level.
  • Academic programs will be strengthened by capitalizing on the strengths of a PreK-12 program.
  • Enrichment opportunities will be identified so all faculty, staff, and students in the county may experience these benefits.

This new model, with the features listed above, must fit the culture and values of Catholics and other Catholic School stakeholders in Scott County.  It will build upon the strengths of existing schools and attain the following benefits that would not be possible through the work of a single school:

  • 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 staffs
  • 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 streams for the overall system from other sources

Bishop Zinkula, my fellow Pastors of the the Davenport Deanery, and I all approved the development of a regionalized Catholic school model.  We also requested Andy Craig, President of Assumption High School, and Rosie Barton, President of the Scott County Catholic Schools Foundation, to co-lead the development of this new system.

I am excited to see where God leads us as we move to strengthen JFK and all of the Catholic Schools in our local area.  Our Lady of Victory, pray for the Catholic communities in Scott County as we move into the future!

Blessings,

Fr. Jake

Background

Over the last 20 years, there have been three initiatives that have led us to the point of a regionalized Catholic school system for Scott County to be endorsed.

Metanoia study:  Released in November 1999, the Metanoia report was incredibly far ranging, with the executive summary itself being about 34 pages in length.  Topics ranged from the structure of leadership in the Diocese of Davenport itself to technology and communications.  Educational issues included religious education, youth ministry, Scott County Catholic schools, and St. Ambrose University.  The lightening rod recommendation was that a new middle school be built south of Locust Street, and reaction to this notion, as well as the sheer volume of the report/recommendations, seemed to plague the rest of the report regarding Catholic school education in Scott County.

Passing on the Faith:  In May 2005, three diocesan task forces formed by Bishop Franklin issued their reports:  Passing on the Faith, Celebrating the Faith, and Living the Faith.  Passing on the Faith included Catholic school education in the diocese.  Local results were the creation of the Scott County Catholic School Advisory Board and other initiatives to increase collaboration among the Scott County Catholic schools.

Strategic Plan for Catholic School Education in the Diocese of Davenport:  Growing out of this 2015-16 plan was the need for there to be a specific focus on Scott County Catholic school education, where about half of the Catholic school education in the diocese takes place.  Gone were the days of dramatically falling enrollments and school closures and consolidations.  It was time for the people of Scott County to plan for how Catholic schools in our area could be stronger and prosper in the future.  With funding from the Assumption Foundation, since becoming the Scott County Catholic Schools Foundation, the process was approved in October 2017.  The Meitler consulting firm was hired in the winter/spring of 2018 and began its nearly year long work.

The process we are now embarking on seems different than the past.  It seems much more bottom-up, and there are no pre-conceived recommendations.  There are no recommendations for closing or merging schools, building a middle school or other level of school (anything that might happen in Bettendorf is moving parallel to regionalization), eliminating families’ school choice, or eliminating all local control.  The only thing that is currently being embraced is that we will be stronger when we are unified together as a system than when we are operating as independent schools.  Now, we need to determine what that looks like and how to get there.

Chad