Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend
Catholic Schools Office
Mishawaka Catholic School Interim Board
Minutes - July 20, 2011
St. Bavo School Meeting Room
Ref. Msgr. Piechocki opened the meeting with a prayer.
Members Present: Dr. Mark Myers, Fr. Anthony Szakaly, CSC, Fr. Fisher, Fr. England, Rev.
Msgr. Piechocki, Vikki Wojcik, Carl Loesch, Mike Burmeister, Doug McMillen, Jenny
Hunsberger, and Tish Wasulko, recording secretary
Things are moving along. Lisa Ketcham has been doing an amazing job in the transition.
Janitors at each site are working hard. Floors are cleaned and waxed, but cleaning still needs to
be done. A preschool meeting will be scheduled soon to discuss scheduling and supplies.
Teachers will be able to unpack after teacher and room assignments are made. We are looking
for a middle school science teacher and after school care directors for each location and may
need to expand advertisement. Vikki is working with several teachers to finalize book orders.
Mike asked if volunteers are needed to help with the cleaning, and Father Szakaly suggested that
HASA may be able to help organize such a project.
The marketing committee continues to improve the website. A mailing was sent to school
families today and included information about the ordering and try-on dates of uniforms. There
have been some inquiries if Kindergarteners will be allowed to wear hand-me downs from their
older siblings, but Vikki clarified that all K students are new and should wear the new uniforms.
Fr. England reminded everyone for future reference that when St. Bavo meeting rooms are
needed for functions, they must be reserved for the master calendar.
Vikki stressed the importance of educating children who want a Catholic education. One
priority is to reach out to families who have recently left because they couldn’t afford Catholic
education and have been in public schools for at least a year. Another is faith formation
families who chose not to attend because they couldn’t afford it. Also, Catholic families who
found that Catholic school didn’t offer as much as the public school could be enticed back given
our enhanced offerings. Some have expressed the concern that vouchers will change the culture
of the school. Regarding the concerns of current families about maintaining our Catholic
Identity, we will not sacrifice, nor will we dilute our Catholic Identity. The culture of our
Catholic school community is the centerpiece of our education. If a family entering our school
finds that this does not align with their values, they may decide to go elsewhere.
Vikki raised the issue of Catholic versus non-Catholic new school families as it relates to the
voucher program. An example is a non-Catholic family with an incoming 1st grader who would
get the $300 SGO and a 2nd grader who would get a voucher. For the 2nd grader they would
have to pay $500 (the difference between $4500 voucher payment and $5000 non-Catholic
tuition); but for the 1st grader their cost would be $4700. Do we look at any kind of school
tuition at all for non-Catholics? Mark expressed that the pastor and principal can provide a
tuition discount for any child, Catholic or non-Catholic. Tuition assistance can always be
offered. It was noted that the 1st grader will qualify for voucher in grades 2 - 8.
Mark pointed out that in general principals and pastors will ask families who can‘t meet the
tuition obligations what they can pay. Completing the FACTS grant aid form will give a good
financial picture. The payment amount has to be reasonable.
Mark mentioned that Queen of Peace has a full Kindergarten class and will not accept more
students, wanting to have only one class per grade.
Doug asked Mark how the response to the voucher program has compared to what was
anticipated. Generally throughout the country, the first year of a voucher program, people wait
and see and some hold back. We got a late start but have enrolled 300 so far in the Diocese.
We will do well. If we enroll 1000 SGO students, we will have a considerable income stream
from the voucher program.
A complicated discussion followed citing both Catholic/non-Catholic and voucher/non-voucher
family examples and how we should handle discounting tuition they cannot afford to pay.
Ultimately, we need to be able to answer parents’ foremost question “What will my tuition be?”
Another example of handling each situation on a case-by-case basis is an incoming K student
with no siblings who qualifies for the $300 SGO but can’t afford to pay the remaining tuition.
Vikki advised that enrollment is over 350 with possibly a dozen returning students and a dozen
students on the voucher program yet to enroll. Marketing will put an ad in the South Bend
Tribune advertising that there is still room in some classes and that we have been approved by
the state to receive vouchers. The budget enrollment number is 384 for K - 8.
Mark confirmed the formula presented to the Bishop: number of parishioners, amount of
ordinary income averaged, with an adjustment for buildings. Buildings are maintained whether
or not children are in them, but costs are greater with children. By August 1, Joe Ryan will
advise each parish of their contribution. Father England asked if maintenance personnel salaries
Father England pointed out that income will be short of meeting expenses for the preschool. It
was promised at the August 30, 2010 meeting at Marian High School that the “Early Childhood“
program would be self-sustaining financially. We have not yet seen a preschool budget. Doug
acknowledged that we will likely be short the first year but we should consider it an investment,
and if the program is not self-sustaining within three years we should discontinue it.
Golf outing profits have been advertised as going to tuition assistance, even though minutes from
the last Board meeting reflected that those profits will go to the preschool. Mark said that the
$20,000 surplus from current tuition assistance will go to the preschool. The golf outing profits
will go into tuition assistance.
Establishment of Permanent School Board
Mark has shared with Vikki models for school boards. She will review these with Fr. Fisher.
The new School Board will be in place by October 1, after school has been going for a short
time. Vikki has started evaluating the material. Mike asked the timing to get people on board
by October 1. Vikki advised there are various methods including appointing members or voting
for members. Father Szakaly observed voting, if used, would need to be in place by September.
The school board plan does require approval of the pastors (but not the Bishop since grade
schools are associated with a parish(es). Vikki will consult with the priests before approaching
potential Board members. By the next meeting a proposal should be available.
The Bishop will be coming on Thursday, August 25, and will preside at an 8:30 Mass at St. Joe.
Jenny brought up a question based on something she learned at work. Do the background
checks on anyone, parents included, who work with children require fingerprinting? Vikki will
The Board will meet again on Friday, August 12, 2011,
at 3:00 p.m. in the St. Bavo Parish Conference Room.
Fr. Szakaly closed the meeting with a prayer.