Montana Catholic Schools Weekly

September 14, 2014

Why do you stay?

Struggling with enrollment challenges is inherent with every Catholic school. Schools budget what they expect so any drop in numbers can mean serious budget implications. As schools struggle with these challenges, there seems to be too much focus on exit interviews. School communities become obsessed with why families leave instead of why families stay.

This is the time to focus on your returning families to re-connect with them. There are families in every school who were on the fence this summer about returning. Why did they return? Instead of spending time on exit surveys, perhaps a survey of your current families.

It's also the time to personally connect with your new families. Why did they choose your school? What were the most important factors? What was the second choice? Answers to these questions (data) will help you in data-driven decision making. But these answers don't come sitting behind your desk. You need to work the car line, strike up conversations in the gym, after church, or wherever you see parents. This isn't always natural but it's necessary. YOU need to start the conversation.

I've heard of an assistant principal who spends every Friday morning contacting parents to find out how the year is going either via phone or email. By the end of the year, he has called every family. This is the time to connect with your parents to find out how the year is going, why they are committed to your school, and how you can help.

If you build/strengthen those connections early in the year, you'll know why people stay.

Dr. Tim Uhl

The Week Ahead

Sunday: Depart for the annual WCEA (Western Catholic Education Association) meetings in Las Vegas

Monday: High School WCEA meetings

Tuesday: Elementary WCEA meetings; return to Helena

Wednesday: office day (Helena)

Thursday: Great Falls schools & meeting with Bp. Warfel

Friday: office day (Helena)

Saturday: Great Falls Central Catholic HS Homecoming

Last week: 1,156 miles traveled

This week: 2,170 miles

Policy Reminder

All employees and volunteers are required to have a clear background check before they begin working in any capacity. Of course, this will lead to uncomfortable moments as long-time parishioners, grandparents, etc. argue that they are "family" and can be trusted. But our families take comfort that we have high standards and all volunteers and employees are properly vetted. And we all learned in our Safe Environment classes that criminals often work hard to gain our trust before breaking that same trust.

So now is the time to run those background checks and publicize your VIRTUS training.

Quote of the Week

Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be. -John Wooden