Kuemper religion teacher Mike McCarty sums up the findings of the breakout session with the leadership and governance subcommittee and local residents who attended the town-hall meeting Tuesday at Kuemper High School to provide input into the school&rsquo;s long-range plan that will be sent to the Diocese of Sioux City.&nbsp; <span style="font-size: xx-small;"><em>Daily Times Herald photo by Betsy Simon</em></span>
Kuemper religion teacher Mike McCarty sums up the findings of the breakout session with the leadership and governance subcommittee and local residents who attended the town-hall meeting Tuesday at Kuemper High School to provide input into the school’s long-range plan that will be sent to the Diocese of Sioux City.  Daily Times Herald photo by Betsy Simon
Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Last school year, the Sioux City Catholic Diocese gathered information from each school to form a diocesan plan that involves the five breakout sessions areas.

Members of five subcommittees reviewed Kuemper Catholic Schools’ several-months-long strategic planning process with the public at a town-hall meeting Tuesday at the high school cafeteria.

It was the public’s first chance to provide input into the planning process through breakout and group discussions.

The close to 50 attendees were able to attend breakout sessions to examine the focus areas the diocese asked schools to research, including leadership and governance; curriculum, extra-curricular and Catholic identity; enrollment and marketing; budget and finance; and building and grounds.

In the first breakout session with the extra-curricular and Catholic identity subcommittee, Carroll resident Steve Kruse suggested strengthening education by providing students with more exposure to real-world experience.

“Each week the school should bring in an expert in different fields, like finance, business and technology, so students can learn what the real world is like,” he said. “Local people are a good source, but we should expand our horizons. There are a lot of people in the community with contacts outside of the area that could provide a lot to the curriculum with real-world experience.”

The subcommittee also suggested offering students more opportunities for dual-credit courses, like the English class that is offered through Saint Louis University, and hire more master’s-degree teachers who can teach dual credit courses at KCHS.

Expansion of Kuemper’s relationship with four-year, Catholic universities also came up when the marketing and enrollment subcommittee met in the second breakout session. It was suggested that relationships with four-year Catholic schools could be enticing to students and raise enrollment.

The school is also examining what building a preschool and daycare facility could do for Kuemper.

“If it will cost us, we’d likely not do it,” said John Steffes, Kuemper’s development director. “But if it could stabilize enrollment and/or be something that we’d break even on, it’s something we should at least look into.”

Steffes said the rationale for a preschool and daycare center would be to bring students to Kuemper early.

“If we get families to enroll their kids into Kuemper when they’re young, they tend to stay with us,” he said.

Sometimes the cost of private school worries families, but 39 percent of Kuemper students receive some amount of financial aid.

Committee member Doug Gifford said the school should do more to let parents know that financial assistance is available.

The long-range-planning process began late last year at all 17 Catholic schools in the Diocese of Sioux City, which includes more than 6,000 students and 900 staff members.

At the start of the planning process Kuemper developed a nine-member steering committee and five subcommittees to examine each of the focus areas.

The subcommittees met for several months to discuss their assigned areas prior to Tuesday’s town-hall meeting.

The ideas that emerged from the subcommittees will be part of an upcoming regional meeting at Kuemper with representatives from the diocese, the National Catholic Education Association, and personnel from Kuemper, St. Rose of Lima School in Denison, St. Mary’s Catholic School in Storm Lake, and Sacred Heart School in Boone, Kuemper superintendent Vern Henkenius said.

He said the schools should be ready to present their final goals to their local school boards in April. The goals will be forwarded to the diocese for final approval, likely in May or June.