Deanery begins talks about future look of Catholic schools


In the ongoing national dialogue on the future of Catholic schools, local leaders in the Dayton Deanery also gathered last month to discuss the future of Catholic schools in their region.

The Dayton Deanery has 20 elementary schools and three high schools. Demographic shifts in the deanery, including the movement of people from one neighborhood to another and a lower birth rate, require Catholic schools to restructure in order to maintain their viability. According to a report by Lenore Christopher, school leaders seem to be very optimistic about the future.

"We are facing change, but we have an opportunity to live it out in the fullness of our faith," Anne Battes, deputy superintendent of Catholic schools, reportedly said.

Nearly 100 participants — pastors, principals, business and parish leaders — met at the University of Dayton Arena Oct. 20.They were divided into small groups and were asked to consider the strengths and weaknesses of four scenarios, prepared by a local think tank on Catholic education, and to offer recommendations.

The goal is to eventually put together a plan of action to present to the archbishop.

The first scenario would maintain the current configuration of schools but reduce the number of elementary schools due to declining enrolment. It would partner elementary schools with secondary schools, align academic programs and share resources.

The second scenario would unite several elementary schools in a geographic region, and each united school would have multiple campuses.

The third scenario would create a unified kindergarten through the Grade 12 system in a geographic region, linking a secondary school with a united elementary school.

The fourth scenario would also create a unified kindergarten through the 12th-grade system of Catholic schools but for the entire deanery. It would use information technology to link with Catholic universities and other resources nationally and internationally. The system would use the strengths and weaknesses of the traditional educational model while creating virtual classrooms.

Participants did not twig to any particular scenario, but said the first two would not resolve existing problems. They agreed that the scenarios needed further consideration. Another meeting is scheduled for January.

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