The Second Vatican Council called for greater involvement of the laity in the total life of the parish and school. Catholic schools involve parents and parishioners in shared responsibility and participatory decision-making through local school committees, commissions or boards.
If you asked people within the Catholic School community, most of them could tell you that they had a Home and School Association. Some might know about their local school board, and a few might even know that there is a Diocesan School Board. The Diocese of Salt Lake City has a school board. It is comprised of the superintendent, associate superintendent, two priests, a principal, and a member from each Catholic school in the diocese.
The Diocesan Catholic Schools Commission (Diocesan School Board) was established in 1987, under the direction of Sister Joan Allem, Superintendent. Its role then, as it is now, is to act as a consultation body to the diocese and the Catholic school superintendent on all matters concerning Catholic schools.
The Diocesan School Board meets regularly, and sponsors an annual meeting for all of the local school board members, principals and pastors. Much of the board's work is done within its three distinct committees. Each member of the board serves on a committee along with at-large members drawn from the community. The three committees are: Governance/Mission, Finance, and Advancement and Marketing. The Diocesan School Board is also the force behind the annual Outstanding Educator Award.
In the last few years the Diocesan Catholic School Board took on the prodigious task of reviewing and revising all of the governing documents for the Catholic School system. This process involved not only the board but also the principals of the Catholic schools. In 2000, the board, with the leadership of the Catholic Schools Office began the work of strategic planning. Many meetings were held throughout the diocese with literally hundreds of people providing input. In 2007 a process to update the strategic plan was initiated. Benchmarks of Excellence was the result. The revised Administrative Handbook and the strategic plan, Horizons of Opportunity: Times of Challenge with the Benchmarks of Excellence stand as evidence of all this work. Both documents are constantly being revised to reflect the ongoing changes in a dynamic Catholic School community.
The Diocesan School Board sponsors workshops on financial practices in Catholic Schools. These National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) workshops are part of the board's ongoing efforts to bring consistency and similar financial practices to all of the schools.
There are many problems confronting Catholic schools in the 21st century. The Diocesan School Board is leading the way in finding solutions. Many parents lament the rising tuition costs but Catholic school teachers deserve and need better pay and benefits. The board is addressing these and other pressing issues. They believe that by working together, they can find the best solutions. Their list of priorities include: working with the Catholic Schools Office to implement the cost based tuition/needs based tuition assistance plan, to implement the parish support plan for Catholic schools and to find ways to support financial aid.
The Diocesan School Board is the place where ideas get put on the table. Members of the board are a group of people with the same goal, providing the best, most accessible, Catholic education possible; they bring the best of the best together.