SCHOOL RESOLUTOIN COMMITTEE LOG #5
The following is from an email that was sent to the school parents letting them know why the decision was made by the school parents not to pursue an optional plan for keeping the school open.
I wanted to send an additional communication around the updates that have been distributed over the past couple of weeks from me and the School Resolution Committee, via Deacon Larry. I know there are many who feel that we are giving up or throwing in the towel regarding the development of a proposal to revitalize St. Peter School. The passion and efforts of our community over the past six weeks has been wonderful and very much appreciated. However, after meeting with the Archdiocese and talking through what would actually need to happen between now and the spring to keep the school open, the reality of the situation, along with the hard facts, dictated the inevitable outcome.
I want to assure everyone that this was not a unilateral decision and the decision was based on fact and the reality of where we are in this situation. Below is additional information that I hope helps shed additional light into the situation:
There was a small focus group that discussed the situation and decided it was not possible to move forward. Contrary to what the minutes would imply we did not have another town hall meeting of all the families. In fact, there are several families that would be willing to fight this decision to the bitter end. However, it was the opinion of the small focus group that it made more sense to focus our efforts on things we can impact and provide the best opportunities for the students of St. Peter School. We ALL sat around that table and came to the collective decision that there was not enough time to turn this around based on the points listed below.
Road blocks standing in the way of saving St. Peter School:
1. Parents had to have a rock-solid plan within no more than one (1) month so it could be reviewed and approved during the month of December, at the latest. This would be a turn-around plan that would require perfect execution and would have to address issues that the school has been faced with for the last 10 years.
2. The plan would need to include guaranteed or at least very convincing benchmarks for improvements.
3. Father Bauer would like to have financial commitment from the school families early in the year because he had to commit to teacher contracts, but it was concluded that this was not possible.
4. Given the size of the 8th grade class there had to be a large kindergarten class to offset the loss of 18 students.
5. Traditionally the enrollment in March is low, but gains momentum before school starts. It was stated by Mike Duffy at the Archdiocese meeting, and reiterated within the Resolution Committee meeting, that if there were only 40 to 50 students enrolled in March, Father would have to pull the plug before the plan had a chance to be implemented fully. If the plug is pulled in March, the parish would have to fund a principal’s salary under contract for the full school year even if there is no school.
6. Part of the plan included implementation of STEM related curriculum, such as Project Lead The Way (PLTW). Even through the Archdiocese takes an advisory role, any core curriculum change would need to be approved at the Archdiocese level. This would delay roll-out of this plan until the 2018-2019 school year.
7. Even if there was a very convincing plan presented, implementation would place the parish in financial jeopardy. We would be asking the Parish to go out on a limb that may possibly require more financial support than the current $450,000 subsidy.
8. While at the meeting with the archdiocese it was stated by Maureen that they commend Fr. Bauer for coming to them and taking this action before the financial situation got worse and payroll could not be met.
9. It was noted that the current number of parish schools in the St. Charles City area is not sustainable over the long haul. We are all marketing for the same kids.
The plan referenced above was being developed from a collection of ideas worked on by many PARENTS to help the school. However, the best laid plan will fail if there is not a strong leader. Even if we were able to find a change agent that would be willing to roll the dice for a year, their hire would still need to be approved by both Fr. Bauer and the Archdiocese. This would have to take place by January and their representation would be required immediately.
As noted above there was a very small focus group of families that discussed the above points. We discussed all of the above points, but the decision not to proceed boiled down to the following points:
1. There is not enough time to assemble, approve and implement the plan.
2. We do not have a change agent in place to implement the plan.
3. There is no way to provide a guarantee with regards to either the finances or enrollment.
4. We did not get any assistance from the Archdiocese at our meeting and they would not be willing to step in because the school is the responsibility of the Parish. They said we had some good ideas, but it didn’t seem that we had adequate time to implement them.
5. The corporate consolidated model was discussed with the Archdiocese, but if this were to be implemented in the St. Charles area it would have to begin at the parish level. They could not force the other St. Charles parishes to comply. To date, Fr. Bauer has not gotten the cooperation of any of the neighboring parishes, with the exception of possibly St. Elizabeth.
6. Given the history of the last month it would be very difficult for new families to send their children to our school while having faith that St. Peter will be around for them to graduate from 8th grade.
I hope this detail helps you in understanding the events of the past couple of weeks.
In the coming week or two, the School Resolution Committee will be meeting to discuss further solutions. As these solutions are vetted, updates will be shared. As always, if anyone has questions, please feel free to reach out to me.
Thank you and God bless!