From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Catholic Schools Week 2001: There are many reasons for celebrating Catholic schools

by Duane F. Schafer, Superintendent of Schools

(From the Jan. 18, 2001 edition of the Inland Register)

The week of Jan. 28-Feb. 3 is National Catholic Schools Week. The theme for this year’s Catholic Schools Week is “Celebrating Catholic Schools.”

As I began reflecting on this theme it occurred to me that there is, in fact, much to celebrate about our Catholic schools here in the Diocese of Spokane, throughout the United States and even throughout the world. Catholic schools have been and continue to be a wonderful gift to the Catholic community!

The Spokane Diocesan Catholic School Mission states, “Our schools make available a Catholic education to all who desire it and strive to educate, evangelize and form globally responsive servant leaders, in light of Gospel values.” This is a very important challenge that we have generously accepted to undertake in the Diocese of Spokane. If we hope to successfully accomplish this challenge, it will require knowledge about our schools and ongoing support from our entire diocesan community.

There are currently 15 Catholic parochial elementary schools, one parochial secondary school, and two private Catholic secondary schools in the Diocese of Spokane. In addition, 14 of our elementary schools also operate preschools and/or child care programs. Approximately 5,000 students are served each day by the 18 Catholic schools located within the Diocese of Spokane.

The 16 parochial elementary and secondary schools that are part of the diocesan corporation are staffed by 215 highly-qualified and dedicated teachers and principals who have an average of 14.88 years of teaching experience. All of our teachers are certified by the State of Washington and 150 of them hold diocesan catechist certificates. Three of our principals possess doctorate degrees, and approximately one-third of the teachers have a masters degree.

The teachers and principals in the Diocese of Spokane truly perceive their work in the Catholic schools as a ministry. They graciously give of their time and talent to serve the children whose families choose Catholic schools. The teachers also make a significant financial contribution to help support our schools. Our current Diocesan Teacher Salary Scale represents only 81 percent of the previous year’s State teacher salary scale, and our salary scale for principals reflects 80 percent of the previous year’s Spokane School District #81 principals’ scale. These scales translate into significant financial contributions to our schools by our committed personnel.

All of the Catholic schools in the Diocese of Spokane are approved by the State Department of Education, and all but the newest private high school are accredited by the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges and by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction This accreditation process involves an intensive year-long self-study process every six years and the verification of the study by an objective Accreditation Visiting Committee which takes place during a three-day school visit. The Northwest Association accreditation insures that our schools are schools of high quality.

Our Catholic schools are clearly outstanding learning communities. Each spring the Diocese of Spokane administers the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills to our third and sixth graders. In the spring of 2000 our 3rd graders scored a composite percentile score of 83 percentile and our sixth graders scored at the 92 percentile on these achievement tests. These scores are in the above-average scoring range and significantly above the average 50 percentile ranking.

Finally, our Catholic schools are families. They are places of love and caring that espouse and practice the values of our faith. Not only do our students participate daily in a formal religion class, but they also regularly pray and worship together, and participate in formal and informal acts of charity and service towards each other, their local parishes, and the larger community. Our schools strive to instill in the students a deep respect for the life and dignity of the human person, a commitment to community, a willingness to provide a preferential option for the poor, a commitment to always honor diversity, and a deep love and care for all of God’s creation. Our Catholic schools are truly Catholic Christian communities that place Jesus Christ at the center of all that they are and do.

This is truly something to celebrate!

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