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In looking to ensure the continuing success of our schools, the diocese – in collaboration with the Office of Education – is initiating “To PROCLAIM and TEACH,” a strategic growth planning process that will focus on Catholic school vitality and sustainability.

This initiative originated with the Independent Catholic Foundation and its concern for the fiscal viability and long-term sustainability of Catholic education in the diocese.

Foundation leaders approached Bishop Bartchak with the idea of taking a broader and proactive approach by conducting a planning process that engages all schools with a comprehensive look involving Catholic education from kindergarten through college (K-16).

To learn more, read here.

News & Updates

Read on the Proclaim E-News Site

Dear Catholic school teachers, staff members, parents and guardians, parishioners and all who support Catholic school education,

At the beginning of the strategic growth planning process, “To PROCLAIM and TEACH,” for schools in the diocese, we outlined the steps that would be taken to establish a plan for the future. These steps include Phase 1 – data analysis and key findings, Phase 2-plan development, and Phase 3 – plan implementation. Since May the Meitler team has been researching and analyzing community and Catholic demographic information, school enrollment and financial data, and other school-related information in order to present a common foundation from which the strategic growth plan can be built.

To that end, this data has recently been presented to diocesan and school leaders for their feedback and input. In addition to their thoughts, we want to hear from you as you listen to the data and share your thoughts about the future for our Catholic schools. A presentation will be scheduled in each of the four school areas of the diocese – Altoona, Johnstown, Prince Gallitzin area, and the Northern area.

As a result, a presentation is scheduled in your geographic area on September 20-22 and you are invited to join the Meitler team as they share the data and information with you. The presentations will be held at your local Catholic high school according to the following schedule:

· Altoona Quadrant schools:
Monday, September 20; 6:15 p.m. at Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic High School

· Johnstown Quadrant schools:
Tuesday, September 21; 6:15 p.m. at Bishop McCort Catholic High School

· Prince Gallitzin Quadrant schools:
Tuesday, September 21; 6:15 p.m. at Bishop Carroll Catholic High School

· Northern Quadrant schools:
Tuesday, September 21; 6:15 p.m. at St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy

Your participation is important for the success of our planning process as we all look to sustain and help our Catholic schools thrive.

Thank you very much for your support and prayers for this important effort. We want to afford as many constituents as possible the opportunity to be part of the planning process and share your insights, hopes and concerns.

We remind you to stay in touch with the “To PROCLAIM and TEACH” planning process each month. Information and updates about the schools’ strategic growth planning process will be available on the diocesan website and through other media as the plan progresses.

Read on the Proclaim E-News Site

The diocesan strategic growth plan for Catholic schools, “To PROCLAIM and TEACH,” is moving forward into Phase 2 of the process. The initial phase of planning focused on data research and analysis, taking a deep dive into community demographics for all eight counties of the diocese, looking at parish demographics, Catholic school enrollment trends, staffing and financial data. Phase 1 data also included information received from onsite school visits which included meetings with principals, school board and advisory council members, diocesan leaders and others. This information provided a common foundation and understanding of the current experience of the schools and the unique challenges and opportunities they face looking forward.

A preliminary data key findings report was drafted and presented to diocesan and school leaders in August. An opportunity for participants to share their insights and respond to the shared data was provided to better understand how the data impacts planning for schools throughout the diocese. A similar data presentation for school and parish communities will be provided in each of the four geographic school areas (Altoona, Johnstown, Northern, Prince Galliztin). More information regarding these presentations and an invitation to attend will be made in the next week or so.

The next step in the planning process, Phase 2, is the actual development of the strategic growth plan. Through monthly meetings with the Steering Committee and the Planning Task Force, a draft of the goals and the action steps to achieve those goals will be prepared and discussed. As Phase 2 progresses, these preliminary goals and action steps will be shared in consultation sessions at the local level in each geographic area to gather a broader perspective and feedback. Phase 2 begins this month, September, and will continue through April of 2022. Strategic growth plan development focuses on the four pillars of the National Standards and Benchmarks of Effective Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools that address all aspects of school life. The four pillars include Catholic mission and identity, academic excellence, governance and leadership, and operational vitality. Academic excellence centers on the quality and depth of the academic programs, staffing, and student activities. Operational vitality addresses enrollment management, fiscal responsibility, advancement, and facilities. To learn more about the national standards and benchmarks, click here to access the link.

We ask for your prayers so the strategic growth plan achieves its ultimate goal of bringing our Catholic faith alive for each student, every day, and providing them with an education that allows them to realize their God-given talents and succeed in their life.

We remind you to stay in touch with the “To PROCLAIM and TEACH” planning process each month. Information and updates about the schools’ strategic growth planning process will be available on the diocesan website and through other media as the process progresses.

Read on the Proclaim E-News Site

“At the end of the school year, members of each Catholic school community were invited to participate in a particular survey as part of the “To PROCLAIM and TEACH” strategic growth planning process. The information and input received is to be used as part of the Phase 1, data research and analysis, along with community and Catholic demographics, school enrollment trends, parish data, and school financial information. The data analysis provides the foundation from which the goals and action steps of the strategic growth plan will be developed.

There are five surveys that were conducted as part of the data process: Catholic school faculty and staff, all pastors and priests, parents/guardians with children currently enrolled in one of the Catholic schools, school board and advisory council members, and Catholic parents who have children enrolled in public, private or home school programs. The online surveys were distributed through various means. Five different surveys were developed, tailored to the specific group targeted.

A total of 1,323 responses were received from among the five different surveys. Survey questions focused on identifying the strengths of the schools, the challenges respondents see the schools facing, potential opportunities schools should consider, and threats that need to be addressed to ensure the schools are sustainable and vital in the future.

A total of 217 Catholic school faculty and staff members responded, 26 pastors and priests, 739 parents/guardians with children enrolled at a Catholic school, 59 school board and advisory council members, and 282 parents/guardians with children who are not currently enrolled at a Catholic school in the diocese. The results of these surveys, to be viewed by individual groups as well as a diocesan-wide look will be presented in Key Findings presentations that will take place in August and September. Dates and times of those presentations will be announced in the coming weeks.

We are grateful to all who participated in the survey process and took advantage of the opportunity to share their insights, hopes, and concerns. The information received provides the Planning Task Force and Steering Committee with important grass roots information from which to begin planning. The goal of the strategic growth plan is to bring our Catholic faith alive for each student every day and provide an education that will allow them to realize their God-given talents and succeed in their life.

We remind you to stay in touch with the “To PROCLAIM and TEACH” planning process each month. Information and updates about the schools’ strategic growth planning process will be available on the diocesan website and through other media as the process progresses.”

Read on the Proclaim E-News Site

“In developing a strategic growth plan with the Catholic schools in the diocese, we of the Meitler team have set up two working groups to assist us and provide leadership throughout the process, the Steering Committee and the Strategic Growth Planning Task Force. Both groups are essential to this process.

The Planning Task Force is the primary working group in the planning process. Comprised of representative pastors with and without a school at their parish, school administrators and educators (elementary and high school) and local community leaders with expertise in community planning, demographics and finances. The Task Force’s primary role is to work with us to provide vision, leadership, direction, context and experience for the plan. This is the primary representative group that will help identify the goals and objectives for the future of the schools and bring them to the school and parish communities for consultation as the plan evolves. Areas of school life that form the foundation the Planning Task Force will focus on are in the National Standards and Benchmarks of Effective Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools and include Catholic mission and identity, academic excellence, leadership and governance, and operational vitality (enrollment, advancement, facilities and finances). As the goals, objectives and action plans are developed beginning in the fall, there will be opportunities for consultation with clergy, school administrators, parents, faculty and school staff members, interested parishioners and others to gain a broader perspective from the school and parish communities before the plan is finalized.

A second group, the Steering Committee, is set up to assist us and the Planning Task Force in the planning process. Consisting of diocesan leadership and advisors, the Steering Committee focuses on the vision for Catholic education and diocesan policies as well as provides direction and parameters for the plan in the context of those policies. This group is an opportunity for the Bishop and diocesan leaders to ‘walk the walk’ of the process and have input at each step so approval of the plan at the conclusion of Phases 1 and 2 (data study and plan development) is virtually a given.

Additional working groups may be established if and when needed as the strategic growth plan develops. These special groups could focus on academic and curricular quality, finances and schools funding model, development, or facilities. The intent is to take advantage of local expertise and experience in providing a more detailed and focused view of specific issues and challenges.

Phase 1, the data research and analysis, will continue through August with Key Findings presentations conducted in late August and early September. Actual plan development begins in August and will continue through April or May of 2022.

Stay in touch with the ‘To PROCLAIM and TEACH’ planning process in several ways: check out the diocesan website and click on the ‘To PROCLAIM and TEACH’ section and follow the diocesan Facebook.”

Read on the Proclaim E-News Site

“Continuing with phase one of the strategic growth planning process with schools in the diocese, we of the Meitler team have completed an onsite visit with every elementary and high school during the month of May. Several hours were spent meeting with the principals, some administrative staff members, pastors, and members of the school boards and school advisory councils. We were appreciative of the warm hospitality shown to us at during each visit and equally gratified to experience the beautiful diocesan countryside.

These visits have been a wonderful opportunity to listen and learn about the experience of each school community, their strengths, hopes, challenges, and vision for the future. Key areas of discussion during the visit focused on the school’s Catholic identity, local demographics, enrollment trends and issues, academic programs, leadership and governance as well as finances. A tour of the facilities also provided a look at the physical plant and its needs looking forward.

The information and experiences gathered during these school visits will be incorporated into the data study and analysis that will lay the foundation for the growth plan itself. Combined with the quantitative data, community and Catholic demographics, all of the information will provide a more comprehensive view of potential directions to consider for the future of Catholic school education throughout the diocese.

‘We were pleased to recently welcome the Meitler Group into Bishop McCort as we participate in the strategic growth planning process for Catholic Education throughout our region. We recognize this undertaking as providing a clear pathway to our future success. Myself and my administrative team look forward to the results of this study and many years of providing an option for regional students to enjoy the benefits of a Bishop McCort Catholic education.’  –Mr. Tom Smith, Principal, Bishop McCort Catholic High School

‘The Meitler Group visited our diocese and each individual school. The visit was warm and welcoming. They asked very insightful and positive questions about our school, facilities, school families, and parish. The Meitler Group toured the facilities and grounds to make sure all aspects of their research would be covered to formulate their report. I truly look forward to the strategic growth planning process as we boldly move ahead on this project. I am confident that this will be a positive and engaging process that will assist our schools and parishes for many years to come.’  –Mr. Jeffrey Maucieri, Principal, Saint Benedict Catholic School in Carrolltown

A second part of the data collection and analysis phase of the planning process is a request for input from all clergy, all faculty and school staff members, families with children enrolled at the Catholic schools, Catholic families with children enrolled in other schools (public, private, home school), and school board and school advisory council members. Surveys were distributed in late May among these various groups to provide an opportunity for them to share their point of view about their individual school and Catholic school education in general. This is essential information that will also help shape the strategic growth plan as it is developed. A summary of the survey results will be shared in future progress reports.

We are grateful to all who participated in the onsite school visits, for their leadership, vision and willingness to share what their schools are experiencing and how they hope to shape their future. Each school has much to be proud of in striving to bring our Catholic faith alive for each student every day and provide an education that will allow them to realize their God-given talents and succeed in their life.

We remind you to stay in touch with the ‘To PROCLAIM and TEACH’ planning process in several ways: check out the diocesan website and click on ‘To Proclaim and Teach’ site to keep up to date and follow the diocesan Facebook page for up-to-date progress on the process.”

Prayer for Catholic Schools

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Lord Jesus, you came into the world to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom of Heaven and you call us to share that mission. Through our Catholic schools, help us to teach children and young people to know you, love you, follow you, and find their ultimate happiness in you. Increase our zeal for ensuring that our Catholic schools are places where students come to know the truth, the joy, and the dignity of being made in the image and likeness of God.

Bless the parents and families of our students. Bless the pastors, teachers, administrators, and staff; bless the committees and boards; bless the alumni, benefactors, and countless volunteers who support the mission of our Catholic schools.

Lord Jesus, we ask this through the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church,
who is the patron saint of our Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. Amen.

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