Lourdes Academy Town Hall Meeting - October, 2017
Frequently Asked Questions
What actually is the strategic plan?
The strategic plan is an evaluation of the Lourdes Academy System. It’s a deeper look into all the programs and processes that make up what we do. It’s being performed by an objective outside company (The Meitler Group) that performs these types of reviews throughout the United States on a variety of schools, particularly Catholic Schools. The Meitler Group has already done a general evaluation of all schools in the Diocese of Green Bay, so some of the initial dynamics have already been collected, which is a cost savings for us. Another advantage is that this company is based out of Milwaukee, further reducing our travel costs.
This evaluation began in September and will continue with visits approximately every 6 weeks until the final report is released next Spring.
With the information gained from this study, action plans to address challenges can be developed, as well as maintenance plans for the things we continue to do well.
What about enrollment?
Our current enrollment is at 625 students. One of the things the strategic plan should give us is an accurate picture of what our potential numbers should look like into the foreseeable future. Instead of looking for a number called “more,” we need to be looking at specific numbers that are appropriate and accurate and allow us to project a realistic picture for things such as: new elementary school size, progressing technology, and facility maintenance.
Have we considered studying “best practice” techniques of other Catholic systems around the country to address some of our challenges?
We have, which is another benefit of working with the Meitler group. Prior to hiring them, they provided us with a list of schools who they have worked with in the past. As I spoke to various system administrators, it became apparent that even though some were like us in size, and some were not, the challenges they experience are often the same. By utilizing this company, we tap into decades of information collected about Catholic school best practice.
What are some of the gaps between Oshkosh and neighboring Catholic systems?
Being new to the president’s position, I’m not sure seven months on the job allows me to completely answer this question, but I will give it my best effort on addressing one gap.
Oshkosh is a very unique community. In Catholic education we have received incredible support from our various parishes. The difficult thing has been that our school system is not tied to one particular parish. It is tied to all the parishes in the community. In this way, possibly the Lourdes Academy system has operated in a parallel universe located somewhere between parish life and the educational needs that all families seek for their children. This can be a challenging space at times. We look for places and events to connect, but unless we make this a priority for all we tend to address our challenges on our own, which leads to parish and school isolation. The vitality of our school system should be a reflection of the vitality of the parishes that populate the system and vice versa. I’m excited about the partnership that we have and the potential to grow with our parishes. By understanding the importance that we all play in supporting each other spiritually, monetarily, and being physically present, we will continue to move forward in ways that can only energize both communities.
What is our vision in addressing our debt?
Our overall debt is roughly $2.4 million.
Approximately $1.2 million = mortgage on CBO building + Storage Units---Lourdes Foundation
$1.2 million line of credit---Lourdes System
As I mentioned at the Town Hall meeting, our finance team estimates that if we can stay within our budget for the next 5-7 years we can potentially generate between $170,000-$200,000 in revenue per year. This would come close to or completely eliminate the line of credit.
Another aspect of the strategic plan is to review our current financial standing and evaluate our processes and practices to see if there are more efficient, more effective, in short, better ways to go about our financial business. When this occurs it has implications in other areas such as: development, marketing, and communication to name a few. As we collect data on this process we need to be open to adjusting accordingly.
Lourdes Academy Town Hall Meeting - February, 2017
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Who will be the principal at Lourdes Academy Elementary School?
A: Mrs. Amy Geffers will be the principal of Lourdes Academy Elementary School. Mrs. Geffers is an experienced and well qualified educational leader who has served Lourdes Academy for the past ten years. Her experience includes seven years as an elementary teacher and the past three years as the Cabrini Elementary Principal. As a principal, Mrs. Geffers has been effective in co-leading the implementation of improved math and reading instructional practices as well as the effective use of student achievement data to improve learning.
Mrs. Geffers’ educational credentials include a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary and Special Education from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, and a Master of Science Degree in Curriculum and Instruction, with a special emphasis on reading, also from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.
Q: What is the plan for the Cabrini building?
A: Lourdes will work with Most Blessed Sacrament to determine the future of the Cabrini site. The building is owned by Most Blessed Sacrament, and the parish will lead that discussion.
Q: Will class sizes change as a result of the consolidation?
A: Elementary classes will remain the same as they have been in the past. Lourdes Academy values student/teacher interaction and prides itself in offering a personal and engaging learning environment with diverse interests. By combining the students, we are able to even out the number in each class and still have room to grow.
FIFTH GRADE TRANSITION
The transition of Grade 5 to the middle school provides unique opportunities for our students. As fifth grade leaders, these students will continue to have a leadership role with our elementary school through Buddy programs, Kindness Connections and other programs, but will also become immersed in Lourdes Academy Middle School. Students from the current Seton and Cabrini sites will have a year together to get to know one another before officially starting middle school. Students will continue to have access to quality educators and a faith filled education that focuses on the whole student: mind, body, and spirit.
Q: Will Grade 5 be part of the middle school?
A: Grade 5 will be temporarily housed at the middle school but will be structured as an elementary grade as in the past. Fifth graders will not be in the class change rotation with other middle school students but will have designated classrooms. They will also participate with the elementary grades in concerts and other elementary school events. Tuition for fifth grade students will also remain at the elementary level.
Q: Will my student still have access to specialists in music, art, etc.?
A: Yes. Specialists for Physical Education, Art, Music and Computers will travel to the Middle School to teach fifth grade. Below is a tentative schedule for special classes and locations. This schedule is subject to change.
- Gym – twice per week for 35 minutes each class. Classes will be held in the Fortress or Castle Gym, Wellness Center or outside.
- Art – once per week for 60 minutes. Art will tentatively be held in the Middle/High School Art room.
- Music – twice per week for 45 minutes each. Location TBD.
- Computers – once per week for 60 minutes. Computer classes will be in the classroom or held in the computer lab, space permitting.
Q: Will my student have access to the same technology as before?
A: Two SmartBoards from the Cabrini site will be moved to the Middle School building for use by the 5th Grade classes. In addition, a Chromebook cart will be available to students to
provide continuity with learning.
Q: Will before and after school care be provided for fifth graders?
A: Before school care for fifth grade students will be provided in the Commons at no charge beginning at 7 a.m. This service is open to all middle and high school students and is supervised by our high school teachers. After school care (ASC) will be provided for $5 per hour per student (the current rate) at the Middle School. ASC staff will provide games and other activities for students. The exact location of ASC is still being finalized and will be announced as soon as a location is confirmed.
Q: Where will the 5th Grade classrooms be located?
A: Lourdes tentatively plans to locate the two fifth grade classrooms in the lower level of the Middle and High School. The two high school classes currently housed in those rooms would be relocated. The rooms have ample natural light, wide hallways, adjacent bathrooms and extra space for after school care.
Q: Where will parents drop off and pick up their children?
A: Parents may drop off and pick up students in Circle Drive (Door #1) in front of school. Because this is a high traffic time of day, carpooling is encouraged.
Q: How often will fifth graders attend mass?
A: Fifth grade will attend Mass approximately every other week with middle and high school. They will also have an opportunity to plan and participate in masses throughout the year.
Q: When will fifth grade eat lunch?
A: The fifth grade lunch period will coincide with middle school lunch and recess from 12:02-12:32 p.m. Students will have lunch in the Commons followed by outdoor recess, weather permitting. Indoor recess will be held in one of the two gyms.
Q: Will students still have recess?
A: Fifth grade will have an outdoor morning recess (weather permitting). Morning recess will be supervised by fifth grade teachers with assistance from the principal and associate principal. If weather doesn’t allow students to be outdoors, recess will be held in either the Castle or Fortress Gym. An afternoon recess will also be held immediately following lunch and will be supervised by the principal, associate principal, and members of the teaching staff. Fifth and sixth grade recess will be held in one gym with 7th and 8th grade in a second gym.
Q: Will parents have the opportunity to tour the fifth grade classrooms before registration is over?
A: A 5th Grade Information Knight is planned for March 6 at 6 p.m. in the LA 6-12 Commons to give families an opportunity to visit the Middle/High School, see the classroom space and ask questions. Note that the classrooms are currently set up for high school, but will be reconfigured with elementary school furniture and fixtures before the start of the school year.
Q: My fifth grader has never attended Seton site and will now be considered part of Lourdes Academy Elementary School at the Seton campus. How will they feel connected to their school?
A: Every effort will be made to maintain connections between the fifth grade students and the elementary school through programs like Kindness Connection and elementary school concerts. Our connection to our school is not based on where they’re learning, but who they’re learning with. Lourdes is a family whose connections extend beyond locations, and our dedicated teachers will encourage students to unite as one Lourdes family.
Q: Who will be responsible for disciplinary issues pertaining to the fifth graders?
A: The principal and associate principal at the middle school will handle disciplinary issues.
Q: Will fifth grade parents be involved with PAGES (elementary PTA) or PALS (middle school PTA)?
A: Fifth grade parents would be part of PAGES, but would also have an opportunity to partner with PALS. This transition year gives parents the chance to bring their ideas to PALS for their future middle school student.
Q: Will parents’ input be taken into consideration during the transition?
A: Parent, staff, and student input is welcomed and encouraged. We will consider all suggestions brought to us, and we will make decisions based on what is in the best interest for our students as a whole.
Q: What will the dress code be for fifth grade?
A: Fifth grade will follow the middle school dress code.
Q: How does parish subsidy factor into the overall budget?
A: Lourdes Academy receives approximately 18 percent of its annual income from parishes in the Oshkosh vicariate (Most Blessed Sacrament, St. Jude the Apostle, St. Raphael, St. Mary Omro and St. Mary Winneconne). Subsidies are based on a percentage of each parish’s collections. Families who are members of one of these parishes receive a tuition discount for their parish support and involvement.
Q: How will staffing be determined for 2017-18?
A: Staffing decisions will be made at the end of April based on registrations. This allows administrators to provide the optimal teacher/student ratio. Parents are urged to complete registration by April 20 so proper planning can be done. Lourdes is committed to hiring and retaining passionate, dedicated teachers who bring their love of teaching to the classroom.
Q: Will registrations still be accepted after the April 20 date?
A: Yes, however staffing decisions will be made by early May based on registration at that time.
Q: What steps are being taken to ensure financial security going forward?
A: After much work on the part of our Finance Committee, a balanced budget including depreciation will be presented at the Corporate Board meeting in March. This is the first time in the diocese that a school system has achieved a balanced budget that includes depreciation. Our Board of Trustees is developing policies to ensure that this practice remains in place indefinitely. The money saved by funding depreciation will be used to complete maintenance/capital improvement projects (ie: roof repair or parking lot maintenance) and reduce our line of credit until all debt has been erased.
Q: Will pending changes limit our students’ access to technology?
A: No. Technology will continue to be integrated into the learning environment on a regular basis. Lourdes Academy has developed a comprehensive technology plan that increases student access to technology through interactive and engaging classroom devices (ie: Smart Boards and Aquos boards), personal devices (ie: Chromebooks and tablets), and eventually a 1:1 technology plan. This consolidation will allow Lourdes Academy to focus their technology integration efforts on two sites, instead of three. The infrastructure at Cabrini presents some unique challenges when trying to increase technology integration. The infrastructure at Seton, while also not ideal, presents less of these challenges.
Q: What educational opportunities can we look forward to?
A: A rigorous, faith-filled education is the foundation for a Lourdes Academy student. Challenging courses and individualized attention help fulfill our mission of preparing students for life, college and a continued relationship with God. Rest assured, this quality education will not change. Our goal is to continue to improve not only these opportunities, but also the quality of education that our system provides.
Lourdes Academy will continue to expand Project Lead the Way (PLTW) at the elementary, middle and high school. PLTW’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) curriculum teaches critical and creative thinking skills and problem solving skills in a hands-on learning environment. PLTW will be offered to every student in K-8 in 2017-18. In addition, the high school PLTW Computer Science Pathway will continue to expand to include both required and elective courses. While other schools offer PLTW classes, Lourdes is the first school system in the area to scaffold the program from kindergarten through high school for all students, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
Lourdes will continue to offer newer courses, such as Dave Ramsey’s Foundations in Personal Finance, and will continue to expand its AP (Advanced Placement) and CAPP (Cooperative Academic Partnership Program) class offerings at the high school level for college-bound students.
The Math Expressions and Benchmark Literacy curriculum currently being offered at the elementary level will continue to provide a seamless learning experience for students as they transition between grades.
Q: What is the optimal size for middle and high school classes?
A: Lourdes Academy targets class sizes that allow for interaction and engagement among students and teachers not to exceed 25 students. A healthy mix of learners provides diversity in conversation and ideas.
ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION
Q: How will the currently proposed school differ from the original plan in size and scope?
A: The original plans for the elementary school included a building constructed immediately north of the existing middle and high school campus. The cost of the project was approximately $13 million. The proposed revised plans, will be smaller in scope and will take advantage of existing structures, infrastructure, athletic facilities and utilities on the north end of the campus along Southland Street. Plans are still in progress and have not yet been reviewed and approved by the appropriate diocesan, Lourdes Academy, or civil authorities.
Q: Will the building be built all at once?
A: The new building would be constructed in phases as funds are secured. Funds for the project will not be taken from tuition revenue, but rather raised from private donors. The cost of the building project will not exceed funds raised, so no debt will be incurred. Approximately $2 million has already been secured for the project.
Q: What is the timing of the new elementary school?
A: While an exact timeline has not been established, the goal of Lourdes Academy is to have students in a new elementary school within two years and preferably by Fall 2018.
Q: What grades will be included in the new elementary school once construction is complete?
A: The elementary school will house preschool through grade 5.
Q: Where are the funds already raised for the building project being held?
A: All funds raised for the elementary school building project are being held at the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation.
Q: What is Lourdes doing to promote the system?
A: Lourdes has partnered with Candeo Creative, an alumni-owned marketing firm, on a comprehensive marketing campaign to promote our school to the community. Candeo conducted extensive research on the most effective advertising and promotion for our system. Support for the marketing campaign was received from the Green Bay Diocese, a private donor and Candeo Creative.
Still have questions? Schedule an appointment to meet with Dr. Joe Bound by contacting Gabrielle Jacobs at 920-426-3626, ext. 534 or firstname.lastname@example.org.