Will we see increased class sizes and the addition of a second classroom for each grade?
There are no plans to increase class sizes or add a second classroom for any grades. We do hope Siena Catholic Schools will grow in enrollment and, if that does occur, there are existing buildings no longer in use that may be re-opened if the benefits merit. A task force will also be formed to review growth opportunities in the near term.
Are there any immediate plans for changes to Academic Programming?
A full review of the the current curriculum will be undertaken during 2018/19 as an initial step. A key cornerstone of all activity will be our goal of supporting the growth of every child. Some areas under consideration include:
- Initiation of STEM/Project Lead the Way programming.
- Accessing Special Needs Funding available to improve individualized programs for students with disabilities.
- Development of a resource plan to support the academic needs of our ESL (English Second Language) students and families.
- Formation of a Gifted and Talented Parent Advisory Council to provide input on how best to address academic progress of gifted students.
What will be the position of Siena leadership on class sizes?
The optimal and maximum class sizes for the Siena Catholic Schools are listed below (optimal in bold). These are the class sizes approved by the Board of Directors of the Siena Catholic Schools, December 2017. The maximum class size is listed at the bottom of the chart. Efforts should be made to keep class sizes at the optimal level at each school. Principals should have discretion, in consultation with the Director of Schools, to vary from these recommendations on a per-class or per-course (MS/HS) basis. Additionally, the Siena system will consider the use of extra resources to support the learning environment on a class by class basis.
Grade Level/Optimal Number of Children in Class/Maximum Number of Children in Class
5K – Gr. 2: 22/24
Gr. 3 – Gr. 5: 24/26
Gr. 6 – Gr. 8: 26/30
Gr. 9 – Gr. 12: 28/32
How will curriculum and changes to the educational program be developed?
The Director of Schools will work collaboratively with current School Principals, Teachers and the Education Committee of the Board in the development of curriculum and new educational programs. With the inclusion of St. Catherine’s High School educators in this process there will be an opportunity to improve the transitions through a coordinated Pre-K through Grade 12 curriculum. We will continue to use the key religious education concepts for each grade level (1-8) developed by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee for elementary students.
Can my child be bused to the school of our choosing?
Racine Unified determines the bussing districts for private schools pursuant to state requirements. As a result, you will need to consult the district bussing map to determine if your child is eligible for busing to the school of your choice.
What will be done to help maintain the special traditions of our school?
We know our parish schools have deep roots in their communities. Community identity, team names and culture will continue to be pillars of the schools. These traditions and qualities make each school special and unique. We encourage principals to build upon their current culture to create a welcoming and warm environment that is appropriate to their community.
Did someone review all of the expenses for the proposed system and determine if cuts and reductions in expenses could be made?
Expenses for the base year of the proposed system were provided by Business Managers and Principals of the schools and were subject to review by the School Committees and Pastoral Councils of the individual parishes. A detailed examination by the Finance Task Force was not completed as part of the business model development. It is anticipated system leadership (President, Director of Business and Director of Schools) will annually work with the site Principals and the Finance Committee of the Board to determine the appropriate balance of costs and resources prior to submitting the budget for approval to the Board of Directors and, ultimately, the Board of Trustees. One of the three priorities voiced by Archbishop Listecki for all Archdiocesan activity is good stewardship. Management of the Siena System must hold to this priority in the coming years.
Shouldn’t there be consideration to closing schools that are underutilized?
To close a school as we embark on the effort would be counter to the vision of growing the system. At the same time, good stewardship demands each year that system leadership will complete a thorough analysis of class size and capacity. With the potential adoption of School Choice enrollment may actually increase. Based on experience at both Our Lady of Grace and St. John Paul II Academy the introduction of School Choice has resulted in increased enrollment so it will be important to monitor this activity closely.
We did not agree with the original premise that there would be no reductions in staffing. This should be determined based on need as well as what we can afford.
Concerning reduction in staffing, this will be one of the key decisions moving forward for the leadership of the system; for the Board of Directors, the President, Directors and Principals. They will be charged with the good stewardship and have to regularly review costs and resources ensuring sustainability for the long term. They will jointly review all resource decisions regularly with help of experts on the Board Finance Committee.
What will be done to help retain our teachers?
In the standalone school model, there are significant constraints on professional development and career advancement. As a multi-school network, we are hopeful Siena will be able to bring new expertise and resources to support our educators in the coming years.
In addition, we understand employment conditions are an important component of retention including salaries and benefits. We are committed to improving these conditions over time.
How will compensation packages change for employees?
As each of the schools had a different approach to salary and benefits we anticipate there will be modifications as a consistent compensation structure is adopted. One of the longer-term objectives for salaries will be to reach 80% of external market levels per the guidelines of the Archdiocese. The leadership of the new system (President, Director of Schools and Director of Business) will work with the Parish Business Managers and Principals to develop a competitive benefit package consistent with the guiding principles of the RACE Collaboration effort including delivery of a distinguished academic program, stewardship of resources and engaging justly with all constituencies.