The board of directors of Catholic Community Schools met for the first time May 17 to begin the work of making the St. Cloud-area consolidated school system operational for the 2017-2018 school year.
Board members elected officers and briefly discussed some of the board’s initial priorities, including securing start-up capital for CCS, beginning a search for a superintendent who will oversee the system’s day-to-day operations, and forming committees to assist the board with its work.
The board also reviewed CCS’ organizational bylaws and recommended their approval.
“There was a great energy in the room. I heard a lot of passion for Catholic schools,” said Father Ronald Weyrens, who was elected as board chairperson. “I think working together some great things will happen.”
Schools participating in CCS are: All Saints Academy (St. Cloud, St. Joseph), Cathedral (St. Cloud), Holy Cross (Pearl Lake), St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (St. Cloud), St. Francis Xavier (Sartell), St. Katharine Drexel (St. Cloud), St. Mary, Help of Christians (St. Augusta) and St. Wendelin (Luxemburg).
The formation of Catholic Community Schools began with Bishop Donald Kettler’s appointment a year and half ago of a 12-person steering committee to design a consolidated system for Catholic schools in the St. Cloud metro area.
In a column in The Visitor in February 2015, Bishop Kettler said Catholic schools are “essential to the church’s evangelizing mission [and] building up the kingdom of God.” The CCS initiative, he said, was the best solution for keeping Catholic school education in the St. Cloud area academically and spiritually strong and financially viable in light of rising costs and ongoing enrollment challenges.
Throughout the process, the steering committee emphasized that there is no intent to close school buildings or change the individual cultures of schools. The goal of forming CCS is to fill classrooms and revitalize Catholic education.
The committee forwarded its recommendation to move ahead with the plan to Bishop Kettler last December. He announced in February his acceptance of the plan, which included a draft start-up budget and a job description for a CCS superintendent.
A corporate board was formed and consists of five members. The bishop; the vicar general of the diocese, Father Robert Rolfes; and the chancellor, Jane Marrin, serve as ex-officio members. The other corporate board members are Bonnie Van Heel, a fourth-grade teacher at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Sartell, and Bill Kain, a St. Cloud attorney and former Catholic school parent.
The corporate board appointed the board of directors, which is comprised of pastors from the parishes involved in CCS and lay members recommended by the pastors.
According to the steering committee’s plan sent to Bishop Kettler, each school site would have a principal and maintain its own site council, which would serve the CCS board in a consultative role.
The 2016-2017 school year will serve as a transition year during which CCS schools will continue ongoing collaborative efforts while an overall budget for CCS is finalized.
The next board meeting is June 8.