Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 1453, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

New demographic study will build foundation for strengthening Catholic schools in Eastern Washington

the Inland Register

(From the January 21, 2016 edition of the Inland Register)

Bishop Thomas Daly has three main goals as the seventh bishop of Spokane: one of the three top priorities stated by Bishop Daly – strengthening Catholic schools, promoting vocations, and the salvation of souls.

As part of the effort toward the first goal, the Spokane Diocese is conducting a demographic study about its Catholic schools.

The history of the study dates back to autumn 2013, when Archbishop Blase Cupich, then bishop of Spokane, initiated two parallel planning processes: the “Know, Love, and Serve” pastoral planning initiative, and a “Strategic Planning Process for Catholic Schools.”

The diocese contracted with the National Catholic Education Association (NCEA) to facilitate the school planning process, and Dr. Regina Haney was the lead facilitator. In addition to facilitating the development of a diocesan school plan, Dr. Haney also was charged with assisting the schools with the development of individual school strategic plans. This school planning process was funded jointly with money from a grant secured by Archbishop Cupich and the Nazareth Guild.

During the winter of 2014, Dr. Haney conducted three regional meetings with school pastors, principals, and school advisory council members in Spokane, Walla Walla, and Colton. During these meetings participants identified both strengths and areas for growth for the diocese’s schools.

The Diocesan School Advisory Council Executive Committee then met to consolidate seven primary goals:

• To establish a clear, consistent vision of what makes schools “Catholic” and to maintain each school’s Catholic Identity.
• To aggressively market all Catholic schools in the diocese through a diocesan-wide effort so that all schools are enrolled to capacity by 2020.
• To assist all schools to maintain financial viability.
• To effectively consolidate human and financial resources to build each school’s capacity for continuous advancement toward the goal of all students achieving his/her potential.
• To substantially renovate or rebuild school facilities to support the delivery of quality educational programs.
• To increase the availability of technology to enable all students to continue to develop skills to ethically integrate technology into their learning and daily lives.
• To strengthen the academic quality of the Catholic schools in the Diocese of Spokane.

In the meantime, Dr. Haney continued to work with individual schools to assist them with the development of their individual school plans. Subcommittees were formed to formulate strategies for each of the diocesan school goals.

The initial draft of the Diocesan Schools Strategic Plan was presented to the school pastors and principals (the Diocesan School Advisory Council, or DSAC) in the spring of 2014 and then a final draft was presented to the DSAC again in the fall of 2014. Six of the seven goals were approved by Archbishop Cupich before he left for Chicago. The fourth goal was not approved at that time. The DSAC and Archbishop Cupich believed that this goal needed more study.

The second and fifth goals required a demographic study to determine the following information:

• The number of school age children in the various parishes.
• Why families have chosen to send their children to Catholic schools.
• Why families have not chosen to send their children to Catholic schools.
• Potential locations for future schools.
• Various ethnic, racial and immigrant populations.
• Family income and religious affiliations within various areas.

In order to conduct this study, the Diocesan Office of Education secured the services of MDI Marketing.

Although the process and timeline are not final, MDI Marketing will perform the following:

• Send out electronically a survey link to the schools and parishes at the end of February.
• Request that the parishes and schools send the link to all parishioners and parents for whom they have email addresses.
• Send two Gonzaga students to a minimum of five parishes with electronic and hard forms to conduct questionnaire.
• Personal interviews to be conducted on site in parish halls at targeted parishes, starting at the beginning of March, for an anticipated two-three week process.
• MDI requests that the priests endorse both the electronic and the face to face process for gathering data through both pulpit and bulletin announcements.
• Sample pulpit and bulletin announcements will be provided.
• Statistical data sourced from government, proprietary and industry-specific databases will be researched on-line during the month of March.

Utilization of these research methods will allow MDI to source focused statistical data as well as receive dynamic responses directly from interview and survey participants. MDI Marketing will employ dialogue-based tactics which will allow target audiences the opportunity to give unique feedback outside of traditional “yes/no” questionnaire formats.

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