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Parish FAQ

Governance

How will the school system be governed?

The system will have the Archbishop as the leader with ultimate authority and responsibility. He will delegate a number of responsibilities to a Board of Trustees comprised of the pastors of all parishes participating in the system as well as representatives from the Racine Dominicans and the Archdiocese. A Board of Directors will provide operational guidance and policy setting. They will be selected and approved by the Board of Trustees. Day-to-day operations will be led by a President with support from a Director of Schools and Director of Business. These positions will be staffed by qualified professionals.

What will be the role of the Board of Trustees?

The Board of Trustees will approve the hiring of the system President and retain certain reserved powers including approval of the system strategic plan, board of directors, annual audit, hiring of the President and property acquisition (see by-laws for a full list). They will meet 1-2 times annually reviewing such items as the annual budget, development and updates of the system strategic plan, student progress and Catholic Identity.

Who will serve on the Board of Directors? What will be the role of the Board of Directors?

The Board of Directors and Committee members will be selected for their experience and expertise. A Board of Directors and several committees will provide operational guidance to system leadership in such areas as Education, Catholic Identify, Finance, Human Resources, Facilities and Technology, Advancement and Development. The Board may have up to 21 members with staggered terms of service to ensure continuity of experience and will meet monthly. Leadership of the Board (Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson, Treasurer, Secretary) of Directors will comprise an Executive Committee of the Board.

The Founding Board will be nominated by the Racine Area Catholic Education Steering Committee based on submissions provided by Pastors, other parish leaders and the Archdiocese. The Archbishop will approve the Board. Initially, the Founding Board will be limited to nine members to facilitate meetings. Terms will be staggered and representation of RACE Task Force Members for continuity will be sought. Also, at least two parents with students in the system will be included.

Facilities

Will our school buildings continue to be used?

The plan for at least the next three years are for the school system to use all school buildings in current use—St. Joseph, St. Lucy, St. Rita, Our Lady of Grace, John Paul II and St. Catherine’s.

Will there be an issue with our school not being ADA Compliant if they are rented by the system?

No issue is anticipated but will be confirmed by the new leadership of the system.

Will the system pay rent?

Yes, the system will pay monthly rental fees to parishes owning the facilities for use of school buildings and facilities.

The Racine Dominican sisters have indicated they will continue to contribute use of St. Catherine’s to the school system.

How will repairs or capital improvements for school buildings be handled?

Major repairs and capital improvements (e.g. roof, new lighting, floors, plumbing) for schools owned by the parish will remain the responsibility of the parish but will funded by a “sinking fund” supported by the school system.

St. Catherine’s major repairs and capital improvements have been funded through school budgets in recent years and will now become responsibility of the school system.

Who will maintain the buildings?

Custodians employed by the parishes (in the case of elementary schools) will maintain the buildings as has been the past practice. The school system will reimburse the parish for costs of salaries, benefits and supplies specific to the facilities used by the school. Costs for maintaining non-school facilities will remain with the parish. St. Catherine’s has had a maintenance and custodial staff for many years and the school system beginning in 2018/19 will employ these individuals.

Who will be responsible for utilities?

Utility costs associated with the facilities used by the school will be paid by the school system. In many cases there are already separate meters measuring use of the electricity, gas and water for school buildings. In cases where this does not exist an estimate will be made based on an appropriate allocation technique (e.g. square footage, days of usage, etc.).

Will other groups be allowed to continue using classrooms and shared facilities (e.g. gym)?

Yes, religious education classes can continue to use classrooms per past practice. And scheduling of shared facilities will be coordinated with parish administrative staff.

Our school closed several years ago. Will the system re-open our building?

There are no immediate plans to re-open closed facilities, however, we hope to grow enrollment moving forward which may eventually lead to a need for increased space. Also, it is anticipated one area of growth will be pre-K as many other systems (including Racine Unified) are actively pursuing K-4 and K-3 programs.

Parish Investment in System/Parish Finances

What was the formula for determining the amount each parish would be asked to invest in the system?

The formula is based on the principle that parishes with larger blessings (i.e. annual income and financial assets) can invest more in supporting the important ministry of Catholic education. The formula is composed of three parts that determine the amount that each parish will be asked to invest.

For the first part, parishes currently supporting schools as a primary ministry are being asked to continue that support at a level equivalent to the past three years. For the second part, parishes with “large net asset balances” are being asked to contribute a portion of those assets for system support. For the third part, all parishes are being requested to contribute a portion of their annual income.

The total of all three parts across the ten participating parishes has a minimum and maximum investment range between ten percent and forty-five percent of annual envelope and offertory income. This level is consistent with benchmark data gathered from systems in Appleton, Fond du Lac, Oshkosh and Kenosha.

I understand our parish commitment is for three years. What will happen to our requested investment after the initial three years?

We anticipate the school system will require ongoing investment beyond this “start-up” period similar to any important parish mission. Consistent with the approach at each parish, school system leadership must practice good stewardship working to balance resources and costs. As a result, they will work to increase revenues from Tuition, Fees, School Choice, Donations and Grants marketing the system’s advantages to maximize enrollment. Compared to other benchmarked Catholic School Systems in the state a larger percentage of the system revenue will come from sources other than parish revenue.

How will investment/subsidy be adjusted after the initial three-year period?

In August 2019, the Finance Committee of the school system will review actual results for 2017/18 and 2018/19.  Included will be full review of system revenues and expenses as well as parish financial status including annual envelope and offertory contributions and parish net assets.[1]  The Finance Committee will develop a proposal for parish investments for 2020/21, 2021/22 and 2022/23.  This proposal will be submitted to the school system Board of Directors and, ultimately, to the Board of Trustees for acceptance.  The underlying principle that parishes with larger blessings (i.e. annual income and financial assets) will be asked to invest more in supporting the important ministry of Catholic education will continue.

Will the investment we pay be reduced? It does not seem fair for parishes with schools to continue to bear the larger burdens forever (question from parish with current school subsidy).

The hope of the RACE Task Force is – as enrollment grows, more students become eligible for school choice, the system realizes collaboration efficiencies and advancement/development pursues additional donations and grants – there will be an ability to both reduce some of the investments from the parishes and direct funds to priorities like expansion of music and foreign language programs.

What happens if a parish is unable to pay the investment/subsidy request?

Initially the officers of the parish corporation (i.e. Pastor, Trustees, Vicar General and Archbishop) are notified the payment has not been made.  Officials of the school system will work with the parish in an effort to resolve the issue.  If the parish leadership determines the payment cannot be made the Pastor will bring the issue to the Board of Trustees[2] for discussion and discernment.  In our benchmarking work with other Catholic School Systems we were told Pastors from other parishes came forward with offers to help offset the shortfall in the short term and to work together for longer term solutions.

How will you enforce non-payment if a parish does not make a quarterly payment?

The first step will be for the system to notify the parish of the non-payment with the hope the situation can be resolved. The next step will be to formally inform the officers of the parish corporation of the non-payment. The officers include the Archbishop, Pastor, Lay Trustees and the Vicar General of the Archdiocese. If the situation cannot be resolved at this stage the Pastor will inform the Board of Trustees and, if necessary, call a meeting to discuss next steps.

We are concerned with our ability to contribute at an investment level based on a three-year average given our trend in envelope income.

All parishes are being called on to sacrifice and pastors and trustees expressed concerns based on a variety of factors including aging parish populations, downward trending envelope income, current debt levels and planned near term capital expenditures. As the Archbishop said during his remarks announcing the system, “everyone gives something for the greater good”.

Will we receive a call from the Archdiocese if we are in a deficit position and draw upon reserves? In the past, cautionary phone calls were received from the Finance Office at other parishes if this was the case.

The Archdiocese Finance Office for Parishes has indicated for the first few years of the system there may be a need to submit a deficit budget and, while reducing reserves must be viewed with caution, there are times when this is merited especially if reserves are of significant size.

How were parish restricted funds used in calculation of the investment/subsidy? How will they be managed going forward?

Parish restricted funds were not used in the calculation of the investment/subsidy. In a number of cases these restricted funds are designated for specific purposes and can only be used for those specific purposes. Moving forward if the funds are available for education purposes system leadership will initiate a dialogue with parish leadership to determine an appropriate strategy for use.

Can we use our Restricted Funds for education to fund our requested subsidy/investment?

This will depend on the restrictions originally placed on the funds by donors and to be determined by your Parish Pastoral Council and Finance Committee. We are hopeful that in the future we can begin building an endowment for the long-term support of the system.

Are all parishes really contributing their fair share?

The RACE Steering Committee and Finance Task Team developed the recommended investment/subsidy after reviewing approaches from other Catholic School Systems and gaining agreement from pastors and trustees on these general principles:

·       Parishes with larger blessings (annual contributions and unrestricted assets) will be asked to provide greater support.

·       Requested parish support will be reduced for financial liabilities (e.g. mortgages, loans and debts).

o   Unrestricted assets less liabilities will be referred to as “Net Assets”.

·       For parishes currently operating schools they will be asked to continue supporting the system at a level no lower than the average of the preceding three years parish school subsidy reported to the Archdiocese.  This is based on the very recent evidence of the parish’s commitment to Catholic Schools and ability to pay.

·       Parish support to other Catholic education youth programs may reduce but not entirely replace annual support to the Catholic School system.

·       Schools/Parishes choosing not to adopt School Choice as a funding source will have the option of contributing a larger investment to the system reflecting the difference from realized tuition and fees to choice revenue.

 

Subsequently, a formula with three components was developed to determine the investment/subsidy reflecting:

1.     Average school subsidy for the past three years for those parishes with schools.

2.     An assessment based on the balance of net assets held in excess of $250,000 by parishes with net assets.  The assessment was a sliding scale.  Parishes with larger balances were requested to contribute increased support.

3.     A third component was based on a three year average of annual envelope/offertory collections with a minimum contribution of 10% of annual collections and a maximum contribution of 40% of annual collections.[3]

While including Net Assets as part of the calculation is appropriate shouldn’t parishes with large assets should be asked to give more?

We believe it is prudent for every parish to have a “rainy day fund” so the first $250,000 of net assets held by parishes will be exempt from assessment. The RACE Steering Committee also recognizes that individual parishes may be saving for large capital items (e.g. roof or parking lot replacement, church refurbishment) and should be encouraged to continue managing finances in a responsible manner.

Some parishioners may opt to make restricted contributions due to concerns about the school system reducing our Envelope revenue.

Certainly every parishioner must follow their conscience and make these decisions. We are hopeful when presented with the reasons for supporting the school system they will continue to make unrestricted contributions and perhaps increase their envelope contributions to help support the school system as an important mission of the church.

Current or projected parish projects will be cancelled or deferred due to subsidy. For example, we have been saving for a new roof. Will we have to delay replacement?

Every parish will have to determine if they can move forward with previous plans on the same timetable or take an alternative approach.  So many times in the past those who love the Church have demonstrated a belief in the Church’s mission and a confidence in the Her future sacrificing for the good of many.  We believe this new challenge will be met in the same way.

 

[1] Net assets are defined as non-restricted cash and investments less liabilities; simply put the resources available to the parish.  The typical household would view this as savings less outstanding debt

[2] The Board of Trustees is comprised of the Pastors of each parish and representatives from the Racine Dominicans and Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

[3] An exception to the maximum will be made in the case of a parish where the three-year average of previous school subsidy exceeded 40%.  Also, parishes through their pastor may appeal to the Board of Trustees for a reduction below the 10% minimum.

What happens to discrete fund-raising activities at the parishes? Fund-raising has been a large component of our support to the school.

System leadership in collaboration will develop details on specific policies, practices and events for fundraising with Principals and Parish leadership in 2017/18. However, we are appreciative of and want to encourage the generosity displayed so often by parishioners in the past. We know from our benchmarking work other systems coordinate major fundraising activities on a system-wide basis (e.g. Scrip, major fund-raising events, building campaigns) and encourage school-level events as a means of providing funds for special school activities (e.g. graduation and field trips, patron saint celebrations, athletic teams, etc.). At this time, parishes should continue all planned fund raising through the end of 2017/18.

Need for Parish Support to the System

We have identified how we plan to fund a portion of the investment/subsidy but still have a gap. We will have to ask parishioners to make this up or draw upon reserves. Is there a plan for a coordinated approach/appeal across all parishes? Can we have help from the Archdiocese and system leaders in marketing the importance of our School System?

The Communication Task Force of the Racine Area Catholic Education Team has been developing tools in collaboration with the Archdiocese Office of Schools for use by parish leadership. Pastors have requested a variety of communication tools including regular bulletin inserts, videos and, in some cases, frameworks for parish informational meetings. These will begin to roll out during the coming year.

We have been requested to invest in the new system but do not have excess funds at this time. Will there be a communication or marketing program to help us understand the reason for the system and to help us make up the gap?

Yes, marketing materials explaining why the system is being formed and a case statement detailing why all parishes and parishioners are being asked to invest in the important mission of Catholic Education are in development.

In his remarks announcing the formation of the system Archbishop Listecki commented, “Evangelization is one of the top three priorities for the diocese…and our greatest evangelization tool is our Catholic Schools. Our schools must be accessible and affordable. We are forming this system for our students, for the Church and for Jesus.”

Will there be different approaches for parishes that recently have not supported a school vs. a parish that is “used to” paying a subsidy for school support? Can you develop marketing programs “customized” to each parish?

We are seeking input from each pastor as to what communication tools are most appropriate for their parishes and plan to work with them to adapt the general marketing program appropriately.

Our parish is unique in that we have a large Hispanic population. We know many of our Hispanic families have students in the Catholic schools. There should be a specific outreach to these families. Please help develop materials that are customized.

We will continue to develop materials in both English and Spanish.