Looking Ahead in Catholic Schools

By Christopher Mominey
Superintendent of Schools

One of the greatest gifts that this moment in our Catholic school history brings is the gift of opportunity.  As we continue to reinvent ourselves here in Diocese of Syracuse in unison with other dioceses across the Northeast that have experienced enrollment challenges, it is increasingly clear that what is needed is bold thinking, new models of planning and innovative solutions to difficult questions.  I am proud to say that we are doing just that here in Central New York.

Over the last several months the Catholic School Office has worked closely with our schools in Broome County and Utica to begin the process of looking more intentionally at strategic planning models, financial reporting structures, new business models and long-term goal-setting so as to secure a brighter future for our Catholic schools. Similar processes will be taking place in our other schools across the diocese in the coming months. The excitement surrounding these conversations has been invigorating for all of those involved as we seek to build on our short term successes and plan more carefully for the future.

On July 1 of this year Nick Bucci took on the task of serving our schools in Broome County as the school system president.  In this role Nick will be responsible for the overall strategic development plan for schools that is being authored in the Tier.  As the former mayor of Binghamton, assistant superintendent  for Vestal schools, and graduate of Catholic Central High School, Nick is well-equipped to lead our faithful Catholic school families and future Catholic school families into the future. The key to our success will be a strong local school board that will monitor the planning process each step of the way.     The recent establishment of committees, such as finance, facilities, legal, marketing, and investments, has led to exciting conversations about the good things to come. I am grateful to those in the Southern Tier, including our long-standing partner The Catholic Education Foundation, for embracing this new way of thinking and for joining us as we begin to adapt these innovative models of planning.

­The Greater Utica Area Catholic Schools have also begun to take a serious look at the future and to establish a strong school board that will propel them into the future. At a recent meeting with school leaders and business leaders from the community, I had the opportunity to share my vision for the future and to challenge them to take greater local responsibility for the running of the school system. By recruiting alumni, community partners, and local leaders, our schools in Utica are poised to take critical new steps as they reinvent their mission in these challenging times. Thanks to the leadership of Sister Anna Mae Collins, CSJ, and Judy Hauck, the Utica Catholic community is well on its way to establishing a clear plan for the future of the schools.  Under the direction of our outstanding Development Director in Utica, Jim Jones, the school system also continues to actively engage the alumni community in the very important work ahead.

Indeed these are challenging times for our Catholic schools across the country. But with challenge comes opportunity.  The opportunity we have right now to begin looking at our schools in a whole new light is an opportunity that is being seized by our schools across the diocese. Our role as a Catholic School Office is to support and encourage local school boards and local school leaders as they actively promote the mission of Catholic education to their families, alumni and community leaders.  As we continue to reshape our schools in light of the changes in society we recognize the need to embrace more sound business practices, more substantial strategic planning tools and, in the end, to set our schools on a path for sustainability.  In this way we can help to preserve one of the greatest treasures of our American Catholic heritage, the Catholic schools.

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