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Don’t Blow It, NCS!

by on October 9th, 2009

Wednesday night, my wife and I attended a meeting at St. Anne’s church regarding the future of the Newman Catholic School system. Schools will be closed, students will be impacted, and money needs to be saved. Both of our children attend the Newman Catholic Schools, and we wanted an opportunity to hear what was being proposed and have the chance to have our voices heard. I wish I could say I left that meeting confident in what the future holds.

Ultimately, it will be the decision of the Bishop of the diocese that determines our future, but the local pastors are the ones who will decide upon a recommendation to make. Four ideas were floated to us last night, and the St. Anne’s Education Committee actually did a presentation and made a recommendation based on their research. I won’t bore anyone with the details, but the WDH does an admirable job summing it up here:

http://www.wausaudailyherald.com/article/20091008/WDH0101/910080624/1981

As a point of full disclosure, my children are 3rd generation Newman students. I had a tremendous experience in WACS (Wausau Area Catholic Schools) and hopefully, my children can say the same for theirs in Newman Catholic Schools (NCS) as well. I realize many of the struggles NCS is facing, with reduced enrollments and reduced financial support from the parishes. I realize the task before the system is hard, but I also believe they are doing themselves no favors in how they are arriving to a decision.

There are going to be meetings at all of the parishes regarding the proposals, and surveys will be available for all interested parties. This is where things get a bit out of whack. As a concerned party, I suggested that all of the plans put forward by the other parishes should be put on a website or otherwise available for all to see and process. This way, we would have a lot of data with which to base our opinions.
I was looked at in a very strange manner and told that wasn’t really thought about. I know St. Anne’s had a vested interest in one of the options, and they made a case for it. What if St. Mark’s had an equally compelling argument? As a parent and consumer, I feel as though the system, and the pastors are ignoring an opportunity to arrive at the best decision.

Further, with the survey, there has been no discussion about releasing the data from it, or even scheduling a massive meeting afterwards to discuss all of the data collected at the many meetings being held. It feels as though this is being set up as a very divisive process. In the meeting, I likened it to the way the Olympic Committee makes their decisions. We all make an individual pitch, and they go behind closed doors, without the benefit of true dialogue. That disappoints me.

Without that ability to see and give feedback to the data, I fear that NCS will find themselves in a worse situation, and many parents will be saying their piece, not in a meeting, but by transferring their students to public schools. I hope that the NCS administration, as well as the local pastors, heard what the parents had to say, and I hope that other parents voice similar concerns in future meetings. This is a great opportunity to shed the view of the Church and system as out of touch. For my children’s sake, I hope they take that opportunity and run with it.

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