As part of the strategic planning process, the Diocese of Buffalo hired Meitler Consultants, a Milwaukee, Wis. firm specializing in strategic planning with schools and parishes throughout the United States. Metler researchers, in conjunction with diocesan leaders and representatives, developed proposals based on data they compiled on demographic shifts, rising costs, diminishing financial resources and other factors impacting Catholic schools in the Diocese of Buffalo. Phase I was completed in November 2009 with Meitler Consultants recommending further study in several critical areas.
From the Introduction to the Meitler Report:
The U.S. Bishops have stated, “We are convinced that Catholic schools continue to be ‘the most effective means available to the Church for the education of children and young people’ who are the future of the Church.”1 Recognizing this, the Diocese of Buffalo began a planning process in 2009 to develop a comprehensive strategic plan for its Catholic elementary schools. The goal of this process and plan is to ensure the long-term viability and vitality of Catholic elementary school education in the Diocese.
In Phase 1 of the planning process, extensive data was collected and analyzed from many sources in the Diocese and the broader community. Jerry Verdi of Verdi Associates in Buffalo and Meitler Consultants collaborated on researching, analyzing and presenting relevant community demographics, parish and Catholic school data. A data resource book was prepared with all data, and presentations were made summarizing the information gathered and highlighting the challenges currently facing the Catholic schools of the Diocese. These challenges include demographic shifts, declining enrollments in many areas, rising costs, and diminishing financial resources. The report serves as a resource throughout the planning process and as the basis for the recommendations and goals evolving from Phase 1 of the plan and strategies to be developed during Phase 2 of the process.
Presentation and consultation meetings were held during Phase 1 with all priests and school administrators invited to participate in several gatherings throughout the Diocese. These meetings were held in each Vicariate and provided an opportunity for clarification and feedback on the data and initial recommendations/goals of the plan.
A Planning Task Force comprised of representatives from across the Diocese met regularly with the consultants to review the data and its implications, to critique the proposals drafted by the consultants and to review feedback from the broader community. Meetings with Bishop Edward U. Kmiec, Bishop of Buffalo, and other diocesan leaders also provided input, feedback and overall guidance during the planning process. Phase 1 of the plan was completed in October/November 2009 thanks to the dedication and work of these committees and many other individuals who are deeply committed to the Church’s mission of Catholic education and the ministry of Catholic schools in the Diocese of Buffalo. It is hoped that the goals which follow in this plan will be used by leaders of Catholic school education at all levels to develop appropriate and effective strategies and action plans that will guide decision-making, planning and policy determination and thus ensure the vitality of Catholic school education for many years to come.
Download the complete report here.