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Address: 1404 East 9th Street, Cleveland, OH 44114

Why Catholic? Meet Bishop Edward C. Malesic
Offices Catholic Education Keeping the Faith Vision & Goals

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Vision & Goals

The Keeping the Faith planning process seeks to build on the rich history and tradition of excellence and faith formation. Its purpose is to strengthen the system of elementary Catholic education in order to keep irresistibly Catholic, academically excellent, operationally sound and geographically accessible schools available across the diocese where demand exists. To do so, the Church is called to “put out into the deep” to lead with zeal for a proactive and strategic approach to building the kingdom of God through the ministry of Catholic elementary schools.

It begins with strengthening the system by clearly establishing the vision for an excellent Catholic school in terms of its Catholic identity, academic quality, operational vitality and leadership, including governance. Communicating that clarity of vision and expectations across the system is common to all facets of the plan, as are the creation of systems to assess the quality of schools in these areas and listen to stakeholder feedback.

Next, the plan calls for the creation of systems and supports to strengthen the areas essential to Catholic school excellence, especially emphasizing the development of leadership and support for tactical excellence in balancing finances and enrollment, including through marketing.

Perspective may be the most major shift, viewing Catholic elementary education as a ministry not just of individual parishes, but of the entire diocese. For most parishes and elementary schools, this will require a culture shift in which every parish becomes supportive of Catholic education — at least pastorally, if not financially. The plan calls for new forms of participation and governance, including greater delegation of some responsibilities to the laity.

Strengthening Catholic elementary education through collaboration invites the Church to healthier functioning as one body in Christ (1 Cor 12:12-31), with its many parts contributing to the good of the Church. Productive collaboration can benefit multiple schools and diverse communities far better than competition in pursuit of strengthening the system and keeping schools widely available. By leveraging the diversity of gifts and talents throughout the diocese, the system is better together: a communal people guided by the common mission to make disciples for Christ.

Catholic identity

The purpose of Catholic education is ultimately the formation of the human person, preparing young people with the knowledge and skills necessary for life and the values and virtues necessary for life everlasting.

The plan invests in efforts to support schools in providing “an atmosphere in which the Gospel message is proclaimed, community in Christ is experienced, service to our sisters and brothers is the norm and thanksgiving and worship of our God is cultivated.”

It does so by providing resources for formation of all who form young people and families in the ministry of Catholic school education, establishing collaborative networks to support all levels of formation and encouraging the effectiveness of formation of students through best practices aligned with the evangelical mission of the Church for creating missionary disciples.

The Diocese of Cleveland will strengthen the system for vibrant, irresistibly Catholic identity in all elementary schools. We will:

  • Articulate a common vision, language and approach for the diocese that communicates our identity as Catholic schools and standards for faith formation and education.
  • Develop a faith and mission formation program for onboarding and ongoing support of all Catholic school employees, students and families.
  • Establish a diocesan position responsible to ensure fidelity to the standards for Catholic identity, mission and culture and faith formation within each school.
Academic excellence

This plan promotes a vision of academic excellence focused on exemplary teaching and learning delivered in an environment that not only teaches religion as an academic subject, but also aligns with our Catholic faith.

Student outcomes will be supported by educator practices that promote student growth by ensuring teachers have access to high quality, research-based curricular resources aligned with our Catholic beliefs. Acknowledging the diversity of the diocese, the plan calls for meeting the educational needs of all students, including readiness to learn, where necessary, by providing school-based services to address social and emotional needs. It also calls for diversifying educational models where opportunities exist to broaden the reach of Catholic education. New systems and processes will be created to enable the diocese and schools to more readily share information about school quality in support of the above aims.

The diocese will strengthen the system for academic excellence in all elementary schools. We will:

  • Articulate a common vision, language and approach for the diocese that communicates high expectations for curriculum, instruction, assessment, and school culture.
  • Share school quality information with increased transparency.
  • Ensure the adoption of a standards-based curriculum in all schools.
  • Facilitate the use of research-based core instructional practices to support all students’ intellectual engagement and virtues.
  • Implement best practices for using assessment data to ensure robust academic growth of all learners.
  • Support students’ social and emotional needs to foster the spiritual, academic and personal growth of each student.
  • Empower schools to explore innovative educational models to meet the needs of their communities.
Leadership and talent

Throughout the field of education, evidence is clear that effective teaching is more important to student growth and formation than any other aspect of schooling. Similarly, effective leadership is the most influential factor on teacher effectiveness. In the context of a parish elementary school, leadership responsibilities are not only the principal’s, but also that of the pastor and other leaders of business and operations; in other models, presidents and board members are essential leaders.

Recognizing the importance of quality leadership and teaching, the plan calls for increased investment in the people who carry out the mission by serving in Catholic elementary schools. It features renewed efforts to attract, develop and retain top quality faith-filled educators and leaders by strengthening present supports and nourishing a pipeline for the future.

The diocese will strengthen the present and future potential of educators and leaders for Catholic elementary schools. We will:

  • Develop a robust centralized recruitment strategy featuring practices designed to attract qualified, talented, diverse, candidates supportive of and committed to the Catholic faith.
  • Enhance the onboarding process for priests and other leaders that includes clear communication of roles and responsibilities.
  • Develop and implement formal programs to assist principals with their professional development in all phases of their careers.
  • Build a comprehensive principal pipeline to recruit, support, evaluate and promote principalship in Catholic elementary schools.

Elementary schools are financed locally — primarily by tuition — whether paid directly by parents and guardians or by state scholarships. But tuition rarely covers the full cost to educate elementary school students. It is augmented by a financial subsidy from the parish operating budget. Most schools also have some form of annual fundraising and a variety of other scholarships, including a new tax credit scholarship recently enacted in Ohio. Together, these provide the funding to operate a viable Catholic elementary school.

The goals for finance focus on both the total cost of education and obtaining the resources needed to operate, as well as developing the tools necessary to make strategic decisions on keeping quality Catholic education available to every family throughout the diocese.

The diocese will strengthen the system for maintaining Catholic elementary school vitality. We will:

  • Develop guidance for allocation of parish and diocesan resources to Catholic school education.
  • Develop a global funding strategy for all diocesan elementary schools that defines best practices for setting tuition, financial aid, maximizing available public funding, endowments and fundraising.
  • Develop comprehensive cost models to guide parishes and schools in balancing operating costs.
  • Develop teacher and administrator compensation tables to recommend salary ranges for attracting high-quality educators and leaders.
  • Develop best practices for raising funds.
  • Conduct comprehensive facilities assessments in all diocesan schools.
  • Establish a school vitality assessment to evaluate schools, and where necessary, form improvement plans.

Single-parish elementary schools, the most prevalent governance model in the diocese, also have been the most vulnerable to threats requiring merger or closure. This plan envisions creating school communities – where appropriate – beyond one parish and the exclusive oversight of one pastor. Catholic education plays an integral role as a ministry “at the heart of the Church,” which will be deepened by new organizational structures and processes at multiple levels that embrace participation of the broader Catholic community.

By stretching minds and hearts toward a vision of collaboration, new forms of governance, including greater participation in leadership by stakeholders, can breathe new life into the system and bolster its ability to keep as many schools as widely available as possible to deliver irresistibly Catholic, academically excellent education.

The diocese will strengthen the system for maintaining Catholic elementary school vitality. We will:

  • Articulate the means by which every parish will support a school pastorally and/ or financially.
  • Develop an updated menu of governance options for schools and parishes, including potential new models.
  • Develop a process for parishes and schools to explore local needs and assess potential changes through reorganization, collaborative partnerships, mergers, or closure.
  • Establish a Diocesan Advisory Board for Elementary Catholic Education to be consultative to the bishop of Cleveland.

To counter the decades-long trend of decreased participation in Catholic elementary education nationwide and in the Diocese of Cleveland, it is imperative for Catholic schools to stand out for their qualities and fit with what parents and guardians desire. To do this, schools must articulate a clear value proposition, focusing on why parents and guardians should choose a Catholic elementary school.

The plan calls for the creation of a comprehensive marketing initiative for all schools, supported by a centralized resource devoted to harnessing the advancement of modern marketing strategies and tactics. Marketing tools and plans will be shared that are a blend of science and art in order to enhance schools’ ability to reach their targets successfully. The plan calls for enhancing the marketing expertise at the diocesan level to develop and coordinate systemwide marketing efforts as well as build the capacity of schools to enable successful execution locally and collaboration to realize economies of scale.

The diocese will strengthen value proposition, brand identity and promotion of Catholic elementary schools. We will:

  • Build the capacity of all elementary schools for effective local marketing by providing leadership and support from a new diocesan-level marketing position.
  • Develop and implement a comprehensive marketing plan for Catholic education in the diocese, with an emphasis on elementary schools.

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