“It is a shift from having individual parishes managing the schools,” Wolsonovich said. “Instead, a two-tiered governance will oversee the business part, which leaves the school principal to focus more on educating the students.”
Schools that will become part of the new system include Holy Family in Poland, St. Charles in Boardman, St. Christine in Youngstown, St. Joseph/Immaculate Heart of Mary in Austintown, St. Nicholas in Struthers, St. Patrick in Hubbard, and The Early Childhood Learning Center at St. Luke in Boardman.
The two-tiered governance structure will include a member board and a board of directors. The member board will be a panel of 11 that includes pastors, the bishop, Wolsonovich and chief financial officers. The board will be responsible for the mission, property, hiring of a president, budget and finances, selection of the board of directors and legal matters.
The board of directors will include 14 to 20 members who have specific skill sets and expertise to handle institutional advancement activities like marketing, budgeting and finance, fundraising, development, strategic planning and policy development.
“Each of the schools is presently a financial entity by itself,” Wolsonovich said. “That is seven different entities each run by each parish....We will be able to accomplish so much more working together than we would have been able to strictly within the bounds of each individual school.”
By bringing the schools together as one system, the result can benefit students, schools and the community, he said. According to information Wolsonovich presented, it would mean uniting fundraising efforts, enhancing resources and boosting instructional technology. It will also help improve financial controls by pooling resources and making way for support for human and technical resources. Once the system is fully up and running, it is expected to vastly improve the Diocese schools.
Wolsonovich said, "We’re very good, but we can be better. This is an effort to do better.”
He said the area high schools, Mooney and Ursuline, will remain as separate entities with their own boards under the system. Also involved are Catholic schools in Stark County, which will be brought together in a similar fashion.
Wolsonovich said the system is the result of a three-year study by a group of 80 people who were dedicated to seeing Catholic education moving forward in the coming years.
The effort was approved by Bishop George V. Murry on Oct. 19.
One thing Wolsonovich added was that each school will continue with its own name, principal, staff and teachers. With the business aspect being handled by the new board, the schools can devote all their time to educating the students.
“We envision developing some common accounting and financial reporting practices, integrated marketing and branding programs, and fundraising efforts across the system, Wolsonovich said.
“There will be sharing of human and financial resources, while each school will continue to exercise autonomy in its day-to-day operations and decision making.”
Wolsonovich said the system is not confined to just the Mahoning Valley, but is a movement that is taking shape all across the nation.
As for a timeline for the new system, the first step is to advertise for a president this month. In January, the board of directors will be named and will meet over the coming six months. The president will be selected and along with the board, will begin work on responsibilities in July. The system is expected to be fully operational by July 1, 2013.
Photo by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
Catholic Diocese of Youngstown’s Superintendent of Schools Dr. Nicholas Wolsonovich unveiled a plan on Dec. 7 to move parochial schools forward in the coming years.