“Give, and there will be gifts for you…the standard you use will be the standard used for you.”  Luke 6:38

 

“Give, and there will be gifts for you…the standard you use will be the standard used for you.”  Luke 6:38

 

 

The Office of Stewardship and Development works with the Office of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux to assist each school with their Strategic Plan, Marketing Plan and Annual Fund Plan. The concept for utilizing the combination of the three plans was introduced to the diocese in 1996 through the assistance of a program from a consulting firm Catholic School Management.

Strategic PlanMarketing PlanAnnual Fund Plan

In 1990, the Bishops of the United States wrote a statement In Support of Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools. Within this statement, one of the action plans presented to achieve the goals set forth was to "engage in strategic planning to ensure the future viability of Catholic Schools." In today's environment with all of the challenges facing Catholic schools, such as remaining focused on the church's educational mission, maintaining adequate enrollment, battling tuition increases and providing appropriate salaries and benefits, strategic planning has become extremely critical to the long-term success of the school.

According to the Catholic School Management Letter (Vol. XI, No. 4, February, 1990), there are twelve elements to a successful Strategic Plan.

1. Creating a Vision and Affirming the Mission
A good strategic plan must be rooted in the school's mission statement. A school's mission statement should answer the basic questions as to why the school exists, make reference to its roots, identify the distinctive features and qualities of the school program and specify the particular people or groups that the school can serve.

2. Assessing the School
In conducting an assessment, the administration will examine data in key areas of school life; such as, enrollment, curriculum, staffing, facilities, finances and development program. The administration will also write narratives for each of these areas in terms of history, present situation and future concerns.

3. Forming Assumptions
The school board and the administration will discuss assumptions about environmental conditions in the future. Assumption areas to be discussed are economic/development, school finances, school programs and other miscellaneous areas that need to be addressed.

4. Analyzing the Data
Once the assessments are complete and the assumptions have been identified, the board and the administration can begin to analyze the data. The analysis is done by using the "SWOT" analysis method. The planning group will first identify the school's Strengths and Weaknesses, which consist of internal factors. The group would then move onto the school's Opportunities and Threats, which are more external factors.

5. Formulating Goals
Goals are a method for each school to answer the question, "Where do we want our school to be in three years (five years for high schools)?" Furthermore, goals should be clear, concise and motivational statements that are realistic and broad and will invigorate the school into a positive future.

Most schools set goals in the following ten areas:
Catholic Identity Ownership/Governance
Enrollment Curriculum
Guidance/Counseling Staffing
Finance Facilities
Development/Public Relations School in the Community

6. Consulting the Community
In order to build ownership of and a commitment to the strategic plan, schools will take their goals to the community (parents, alumni, parishioners and others) to respond positively or negatively to the direction of the school and the strategic plan.

7. Determining Objectives
Once the consultation is complete and the goals are finalized, the school board and the administration will decide on the objectives to achieve the set goals. Objectives should be specific, time-oriented and have a measurable outcome.

8. Writing the Action Plans
The faculty and administration will write the action plans for each objective. Action plans will express how, when, and where a particular objective will be carried out.

9. Preparing a Budget
Any strategic plan will impact a school's budget, either on the expense or income side. Costs could cause some objectives to be placed on hold or modified. Once the budget is finalized, the written portion of the strategic plan is set.

10. Monitoring and Implementation
The school board has the primary responsibility in monitoring the progress of the strategic plan. On a quarterly basis, a written report that details the status of all objectives for each goal is prepared and given to all of the school's board members and the Diocesan Office of Catholic Schools.

11. Evaluating the Plan's Effectiveness
At the end of the year, the school board and administration review the overall plan with a focus placed on achieving results in all areas.

12. Updating the Plan
On an annual basis the school board and administration will update the plan. Updating requires that the board reviews the original assumptions and determines whether these have changed or remain constant. Furthermore, the school board must now set in place the objectives for the following year before the school year is to begin.