Thursday, January 16, 2014

Weekly Update 1/10/2014

I hope that everyone had a refreshing Christmas and New Year!  I was able to get some much needed time with family, and participated in a little Christmas Eve day pheasant hunting with my brother-in-law. When we stepped out of the car the temperature gauge read a balmy – 15.  Hopefully you all made better decisions than that. 

While the school was pretty quiet due to the lack of student noise that certainly doesn’t mean that nothing was accomplished over break.  

The end of December becomes a very busy time on the STO side of the office.  By January 1st we needed to raise $762,186.15 in order to “cap” the number of credits we are issued. Through the hard work of Linda and Liz we were able to do just that. This money will certainly benefit those needing help to attend our Scott County Catholic Schools.

Most of Christmas break was spent catching up on things that we had not yet been able to address on the buildings and grounds side. Little nagging maintenance things – fix this light here, replace that ceiling tile there – were able to be addressed while the school was free of the usual day to day activity. 

One project I personally needed to work on was state reporting. I am sure some of you cringe when you hear I am spending my time making ensure all our data is in proper order.  Don’t worry; I too cringe when I think of the monotonous task of completing what seems like one of our 10 state reports. Anyway our winter report is completed. Let the celebration begin!

The other project I worked on was certainly more fun and interesting. I spent some time over break collecting some information for the finance committee. If you remember our discussion from the last Board meeting, I was to research tuition data from the Catholic secondary schools in Iowa. While it took some time, it was a worthwhile process and I learned quite a bit about tuition models, rates, discounts and assistance. One of the cool things to look at is a comparison of tuition rates. Below is the info I found for the current year organized from highest to lowest with certified enrollment for each school:

Certified Enrollment
Bishop Heelan


St. Albert



Waterloo Columbus

Burlington Notre Dame

St. Edmund

Prince of Peace



Don Bosco


Bishop Garrigan


The final project we worked on was revamping our purchase order system. I took a visit to a public school district, which in the last 5 year has centralized their PO process with great success. I need to do more research, but this is certainly something which may help to ease some of our concerns about purchase orders.  

Have a great weekend!


Weekly Update 12-13-2013

A couple of brief updates for the week:

·         The choir and band put on a wonderful concert Wednesday night.  Hats off to Mrs. Mahr, Mr. Loes, and all the students for their wonderful performance.
·         On Thursday our local priests approved subsidy for the 2014-2015 school year. This is the first step in the budget process.
·         On Friday a tuition increase of 3% was recommended by the finance committee.

As I mentioned last week, I wanted to give an update on the conversation about District football.  Historically, Assumption has played 4A football in the MAC conference, despite being the smallest school in the conference with an enrollment that qualifies us to play in 3A. The reason for this is that, unlike other sports, 4A football teams must qualify for playoffs, and because we play against all 4A teams in the MAC conference, we qualify for the 4A playoffs. Other teams who “play up” to 4A in Iowa include Wahlert and Xavier. 1A, 2A and 3A divisions compete in district competition, not conference competition, and the state decides who you compete against in playoff games.  

In 2012, the state called a meeting in Des Moines to discuss moving division 4A schools away from the football conference structure and toward a district structure. Coach King put a lot of time and research into determining what would be the best option for Assumption if the proposal became a reality.  At that time, we believed if the state decided to move 4A to district competition there would cease to be a MAC football conference, and it would make the most sense for Assumption to compete at our enrollment level, 3A.    

At the state meeting it was announced that the decision had been made to switch the 4A teams on the west side of the state to district football and allow the east side of the state to continue to play conference football. If you think this sounds confusing, you are not alone. We were confounded by this decision, and at that point decided we would continue to play 4A football.  

Fast forward to this year. We were contacted toward the end of the summer by Dubuque Wahlert to see if we would partner with them in asking the state to revisit the decision to separate the state into east and west halves for football. Wahlert school officials had decided that the best thing for their program was to play at the 3A level. This caused us to reconsider our best options, and it was determined that making the change to 3A was still the best choice for us.  

A few weeks ago Wade and I attended a meeting in Cedar Rapids with the east side 4A school administrators and state officials to discuss the possibility of 4A district football on our side of the state. We also hoped to determine which path Wahlert and Xavier were thinking of choosing. At the time, it was obvious that the state was not going to force the 4A schools into 4A districts. Our conference football coaches felt it necessary to pursue competition outside of the MAC conference, which lead to a conversation about a “super-conference;” in other words, a combination of the MAC and MVC conference. This could create negative consequences for Assumption including increased travel time to games and the potential to lose some rivalry games. 

This Wednesday we also learned that Wahlert and Xavier have decided to drop down and play 3A football. This would leave us as the only school playing above their enrollment level. With this decision, it appears that the majority of the 4A schools on the east side of the state now support a switch to 4A district football. This leads to a choice for us: we can continue to play up at the 4A level, or we can play at our enrollment level, 3A.  After discussing and analyzing some of the benefits and drawbacks, at this point it appears that pursuing the 3A option is the most logical choice, but I would like to discuss this with all of you before we commit one way or the other.

Have a great weekend!


Weekly Update 12-6-2013

I hope everyone had an enjoyable Thanksgiving and has gotten back in the swing of things.  The Assumption students have hit the ground running after break with reconciliation services, preparation for finals, winter sports and state competitions, and preparation for band and choir concerts.  

Many of you may have read the article in the paper regarding Wade King and I attending a meeting between MAC and Mississippi Valley conference officials (Link).  At the next Board meeting, we will be spending some time discussing what has occurred with MAC conference football. Next week I will be providing a summary of events in order to prepare you for the discussion. If you would like to know more before then, feel free to give me a call.

Thursday I had a chance to meet with local legislators at the AEA.  After listening to all of the speaches, it seems as though the upcoming session will focus on mental health issues, creation of job opportunities for the unemployed, and how to best spend the $779 million dollar state surplus.  It sounds like school start date will also be on the agenda (as it seems to be every year).  The legislators also indicated that there seems to be a big push by some to revisit the Core curriculum and smarter balanced assessments due to the controversy surrounding them.  

Thursday also brought our monthly K12 marketing meeting.  Items discussed included: Catholic Schools Week, promotional items, Facebook video, dodge ball for diapers, light pole banners and cutout signs. 

The Annual April Knight Christmas Luncheon was held Friday, and as always it had record breaking attendance. Thanks to Susie Foster and Jane Coryn for all of their hard work with the luncheon. Mrs. Murphy was this year’s speaker, and she did a tremendous job highlighting all the spiritual, academic, and extracurricular achievements of our students. The jazz choir also gave a wonderful performance at this event. It is inspiring to be in the company of so many who truly care about Assumption and the future of Catholic education in Scott County.  

Have a great weekend!