Montana Catholic Schools Weekly

January 25, 2015

What's the State of your School?

Last week, President Obama delivered the annual State of the Union address. Many schools have adopted the “State of the School” model to deliver relevant information to its stakeholders. Our increasingly curious and intelligent parents, parishioners, alumni, and supporters want to know the health of the school and its future outlook. By giving them this information, we’ll work to weaken misconceptions and embolden efforts to build a better school.

A great “State of the School” presentation should begin with a reminder of your mission. Remind people why you exist and why you are relevant. Then address five areas (found below) in the attempt to address the history of the school, the present state of affairs, and the future outlook. Principals often worry about sharing too much information. However, not sharing brings doubts, questions, and uncertainty. If you transparently share this information, you will win more support.

I’m suggesting a presentation but I also suggest this information should be disseminated widely through your print newsletters, your e-newsletters, your website, your Facebook page, an insert in your parish(s) bulletins, etc. Keep the information flowing!

Income: Share where your income comes from and in what amounts. A pie chart is a great way to show this information. A Catholic school’s income is generally derived from tuition and fees, parish/diocesan support, fundraising, and donations (grants, direct contributions, endowment income). Talk about where your money comes from and in what amounts. This is where many misconceptions arise and by sharing the information you’ll dispel those myths.

Expenses: Share where your money is spent in broad categories—salaries & wages, curriculum, technology, operations, utilities, administrative costs. Don’t overwhelm people with a 3-page Profit & Loss budget report. Obviously, the largest portion is salary and wages. Talk about the average teacher salary compared to the state average.

Enrollment: Show your enrollment by grade over time. Discuss trends and show the challenges and successes. This is another area where principals often hide their reality. It's better to reveal reality.

Programs: Highlight what you do that is unique—religion classes, liturgies, specialty classes such as art, PE, etc. If you’re under-enrolled, now is the time to highlight small class sizes. iPads? Chromebooks? New textbooks? Highlight your strengths.

Strategic Plan: What are your plans for the future? What are the initiatives coming from the Administration and/or Advisory Council? What are your dreams? What would you like to do?

Then make sure to summarize the State of the School. Where are your strengths? What are you proud of? Where do your challenges lie? How will you go about meeting them? What do you need? Enrollment is always a challenge for Catholic schools. If you frame your school as a ministry and share your desire to minister to more children (and families) because what you do is important, you will win more support.

Our parents and supporters are a smart crowd. You need to talk like a missionary AND a CEO, talking the talk of a relevant mission and walking the walk of successful business plan. No one else can do this. People expect their school leaders to have a clear vision of their school and to have dreams for the future. Now is the time for you to communicate this vision.

Dr. Tim Uhl

The Week Ahead

Monday: Great Falls (meetings in afternoons, Great Falls Study Commission 6:00 pm)

Tuesday: All-School Mass in Great Falls 9 am

Wednesday: Missoula (meetings)

Thursday: Billings (meetings)

Friday: All-School Mass @ St. Labre (Ashland)

Saturday: Basketball games @ St. Labre

This week: 1180 miles

Last week: 1,057 miles & 410 newsletter views

2014-15: 19,364 miles

Montana Catholic Schools

Serving 3800+ students in 24 Catholic schools across the Treasure State

School Policies

The latest version of the school policies are available on the website: Please make your bookkeepers, business managers, and HR staff aware of their availability.

American Catholic News

Catholic Sisters in Houston, Texas

A great article on the struggles and lives of sisters in Houston:

Value of Catholic Schools

The article uses the efficiency of Catholic schools as a justification for NOT increasing spending on public schools:

Consolidating, Saving, Closing Catholic Schools

  • Six Chicago-area parish schools are asked to work together to stave off possible closings:
  • Alumni of a school in Pennsylvania are working together to try to save the school:
  • In Maryland, a Catholic school scheduled to close receives permission to become an independent, parent-run Catholic school:
  • Schools to close in Northampton (Pennsylvania):

Leadership Articles

Teaching & Instruction Links


If you haven't browsed the pages of Cylibraryman, you need to do so immediately! He is a wealth of great information. This is a link to a page on character:


A Letter to the Future From Kid President