By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published November 3, 2016
ATLANTA—The archdiocesan Office of Catholic Schools is building its next strategic plan by first asking people what they think of Catholic schools.
Educational leaders want to learn from the community how the Catholic school system is perceived, what drives parents to register their children in Catholic schools and what services are lacking in the school system. About 11,000 students are educated in Catholic schools in north and middle Georgia.
An effort 18 months in the making, the survey will serve as a foundation for priority setting during the next three to five years.
“We hope to understand what they think about us and what they’d like us to do in the future,” said Rebecca Hammel, associate superintendent of schools.
In the geographic area of the archdiocese, there are 25 Catholic elementary schools and high schools, including 18 archdiocesan schools and seven other independent Catholic schools, some affiliated with religious congregations. Most are located in metro Atlanta.
Hammel said there are parts of the archdiocese that don’t have access to Catholic schools where parents have asked for support to open schools. It is important that parents without easy access to Catholic schools submit surveys so educational leaders hear from them.
She said the survey will gauge interest in different offerings like virtual academies where teachers lead a virtual classroom environment or a hybrid model, where students are homeschooled a few days a week and come together for a couple of days in a Catholic atmosphere.
The survey will take about 15 minutes to complete. It will play a part in updating the 2008 education strategic plan, which was responsible for introducing the “viability index” to the schools that ensures they are hitting benchmarks for academics and operations. The results will be reviewed by the Archdiocesan School Advisory Council as it guides school policies and future plans.
Pastors have been asked to promote the survey in their parishes and on parish websites. People interested in taking the survey online can also find it on the website of the Office of Catholic Schools and paper surveys are available. Contact the Office of Catholic Schools at 404-920-7700.