An article in yesterday’s Cincinnati Enquirer featured the $15 million “deficit” facing Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. This figure was pulled from the Supplemental Financial Report published on the vision website last December. The article mentioned this deficit as the impetus for the developing vision for Catholic schools, due to be released in the late summer/early fall of this year.
The figure of $15 million is daunting, but it also inspires a great degree of hope. Although the Enquirer article referred to this as a “deficit,” this is, in fact, a willing donation on the part of the people of the Archdiocese. For many years, our schools have been supported through the voluntary financial support of parishioners and other donors who contribute to parish offertories, annual fund drives, and other efforts. These donations are not forced; people contribute because they see our schools as a vital ministry in the Archdiocese, and wish to see our superior programs continue.
The economics of Catholic education have changed dramatically over the years (see my blog entry from last November, entitled “The Puzzle of Catholic School Finances,” for more information). Most schools, both locally and nationally, rely upon additional income garnered through parish subsidies. Some have voiced concern over the costs of education and escalating tuition. Much of our vision is based upon ensuring vibrant Catholic schools that are affordable and available to all who wish to attend.
Our vision will succeed because the people of the Archdiocese love and value Catholic school education. Although we will seek to lower parish subsidies and control tuition expenses, it is heartening to know that our supporters are willing to support Catholic schools with their time, talent…and treasure. Instead of seeing our finances as an insurmountable obstacle, we should instead recognize it is an opportunity, a foundation from which to build a wider framework of support. Our schools will prosper, but only because they are so treasured by our people. Such support has sustained us, and will continue to strengthen us into the future.