Montana Catholic Schools Weekly

October 25, 2014

Who We Are (Data Matters)

We need to be data-driven. Not in the sense that test scores dictate all we do but rather in the sense that we should have data to back up our opinions. To that end, we have compiled the demographic surveys and I can present a few significant data points in the areas of students, staff, and schools. These data points illuminate our school system and could perhaps eliminate misconceptions about the Montana Catholic schools. In the next few weeks, I’ll be putting together a report for the bishops on enrollment trends and the state of our schools. I’ll be sharing that report with all principals in the regional meetings and will then post it on the website.


  1. It seems that most people believe our schools serve only rich white students. Over 28% of our students fall below the poverty line.
  2. Over 25% of our students are Native American. We have a very robust system of 8 Indian schools which do not charge tuition but we also have a significant population of Native American students at our other schools, too. State-wide, the Indian population of our public schools is 13%.
  3. Our non-Catholic population is much larger than even I expected (33%). This testifies to the quality of our schools and their ability to attract non-Catholics.


  1. Likewise, our non-Catholic population of staff (30%) is higher than expected, which perhaps testifies to our ability to attract mission-driven educators and underlines the importance of our annual religious formation classes.
  2. Our average salary is approximately $30,000 which on one hand draws attention to the dedication of our staff who could be making far more in the public system (average salary of $45,000) and the work left to be done on our part to reward teachers.


  1. Our system of 23 schools boasts an enrollment of over 3,800 students which makes it the 7th-largest school district in the state.
  2. Our total enrollment declined by only 6 students in the past year.
  3. The most enrollment growth by a diocesan school was St. Francis Primary School (Billings) which grew by almost 5%.
  4. The biggest growth, however, happened here in Helena by the independent Catholic school, St. Andrew, which grew 8% (14 students) and is now enrolling 189 students K-12.

The Week Ahead

Sunday morning, I depart for Albuquerque for the annual CACE (Chief Administrators of Catholic Education) conference. All superintendents gather to share best practices and advance our profession.

Sunday: CACE

Monday: CACE

Tuesday: CACE

Wednesday: CACE

Thursday: Helena (office day & meeting with Carroll College's Kyle Baker)

Friday: meeting with Bishop Thomas in Helena and Bishop Warfel in Great Falls

This week: 2,572 miles

Last week: 753 miles

This year: 8,992 miles

Montana Catholic Schools

Serving 3,864 students in 23 schools spread across the 4th largest state

Upcoming Events

November 4: Curriculum meeting in Kalispell (7 pm)

November 5: Helena chancery meeting

November 13: Great Falls Study Commission

November 18: Missoula regional principal meeting 10 am

November 19: Great Falls regional principal meeting 10 am

November 20: Billings regional principal meeting 10 am

Congratulations St. Andrew School!

St. Andrew's completed a very successful WCEA accreditation visit last week. Special thanks to the dedicated professionals who gave up 4 days to help St. Andrew: Kathy Harris (Marketing Director, Billings Catholic Schools), Rhonda Hawkins (teacher, St. Matthew's School), Kerrie Hellyer (principal, Butte Central Elementary), and Chris Read (principal, St. Francis Intermediate).
The Common Core State Standards and Assessments: Where are We?
Freedom in the Congo