SALT LAKE CITY — The Diocese of Salt Lake City has commissioned a study of all Utah Catholic schools. The study will be performed by Catholic School Management, a division of Christian Brothers Services. The data gathered in the study will help Superintendent of Schools Mark Longe and diocesan school personnel put together a long-term strategic plan for all of the schools.
“We wanted to do a broad study to look at four specific areas in these schools, the benchmarks of a Catholic school: Catholic identity, governance, academic excellence and operational vitality,” Longe said. “We want to identify the individual strengths in those areas, and then we want recommendations in areas for growth in all of those areas. This will give us an idea of what we’re doing well and how we can improve moving forward in the future.”
Longe said they hope to use the data to also determine what the demand for Catholic education will be in the future. “So we want to take that long look with our numbers,” he said. “We want to see how might we best configure the schools to meet the needs of our stakeholders in the future, so that means making sure we’re modern, we’re up-to-date, we’re meeting the needs of our families in all four of those domains.”
As part of the study, a broad selection of members of the school communities will be contacted to participate via online surveys or the submission of personal comments. Teachers and staff will also be surveyed. Along with the surveys, the consultants will gather data from the schools and conduct onsite visits as well as personal interviews with key individuals in the school community such as pastors, principals and a representative number of teachers and school board chairs, Longe said.
The study will be conducted in October and November. CSM will present the study to diocesan and school officials early next year.
After the study is completed, each school will receive a list of its identified strengths and recommendations from the consultants, Longe said. He will then sit down with officials at each school and look at how that ties in with their accreditation plan and their strategic plan, if they have a current one in place. If the school has not formulated long-term plans, he will work with the school and staff to develop them.
Longe encourages parents who receive an invitation to participate in the study to do so. A high response rate will ensure more accurate data, he said.
“We value our parents’ opinions; we’re here for their children and for them,” he said. “That’s why we exist, to help with the mission of the Church, which is to evangelize their children in the faith, and so it’s important that we do that; they’re key in this survey.”
Having the study done is “taking the pulse of the schools in the system and also looking at where we are now; and then, based on population data, based on data from our parishes, looking at the number of kids we have in religious education, looking at our vacancies in the schools right now and looking at the projected population growth of Utah for the future,” Longe said.
“Will we be adequately prepared to meet the demands in the future? Will there still be a demand in the future at our schools, based on some quantitative data? These are some of the questions we hope will be answered with this study,” he said.
Kearns St. Ann School Principal Susan Nakaba said that she trusts Longe to have thoroughly researched the study and its benefits to the schools and their students.
“If this is something that’s going to improve our schools, our student experience and our financial resources, I’m all for it,” she said.