The biggest successes are usually accomplished by having a plan. This fall St. Mary’s High School President John Kraus unveiled a three-year strategic plan that will increase the school’s well-established success.
The purpose of the strategic plan, according to Kraus, is to provide the vision, strategies, and goals that will guide improvements to the school during the next three years. Kraus decided to go with a three-year strategic plan—instead of the usual five- or 10-year plan—because it forces work to begin on the plan right away.
“With a three-year timeline we have to work on it right now,” he said. “These are critical issues for the school that we cannot afford to postpone.”
The Strategic Plan addresses five critical issues facing the school. They are: reinforcing the Catholic identity; building on academic excellence; achieving financial stability; developing student life; and improving infrastructure.
To reinforce Catholic identity, St. Mary’s will work to strengthen the relationships it has with the parishes in the Diocese of Colorado Springs, increase the services of the SMHS chaplain, and implement some changes to the school’s community service requirement. Work on this issue started in August when SMHS chaplain Father Brian Roeseler began keeping part-time hours on campus.
While St. Mary’s is already known for its academic excellence, the plan calls for academic innovations, especially in technology. As part of the plan, online classes will be offered and a wireless infrastructure will be put in place. Work will also be done to retain and empower high-quality faculty members.
The third area to be addressed by the plan is financial stability. Stability involves increasing enrollment and increasing giving. The enrollment piece will be addressed using relationships with parishes, marketing plans, and retention. Enrollment, retention, and development plans are being created to guide the progress.
“We want to offer our education to more students and are looking to increase our enrollment by 20 percent in three years,” Kraus said. “We feel like we offer the education that our community needs to have in its future leaders.”
One group that Kraus would like to energize in support of the school is alumni, which will include conducting alumni gatherings outside of the Colorado Springs area as well as introducing alumni to the current student body.
“We want to bring more alumni back to campus,” Kraus said. “We want them to be excited about their continued association with St. Mary’s.”
The issue of improving student life includes increasing education on integrity issues, such as cheating, bullying, and the use of alcohol and drugs. Another goal is to optimize student retreats and include some summer faith-development opportunities.
The fifth issue addresses the school’s facilities, especially in relation to the science classrooms and labs since right now St. Mary’s students are “outperforming” the school’s facilities. Kraus said that much of the science wing equipment was moved from the old campus downtown decades ago.
“We have lots of dreams for the school but our main facility dream is a floor to ceiling renovation of the science rooms,” he said. “Over the years we’ve made some upgrade in materials through grants and donations, but a total makeover is needed to advance our facility to the next level.
While Kraus initiated the plan, the planning process has been a collaborative work between Kraus and the school’s board of directors with input from the greater St. Mary’s community. Kraus said subcommittees are now working on ways to advance the plan, and this month talks with the diocese and parishes begin.
Twice a year Kraus will give a progress report to the board, and the plan can be modified, if necessary. The process for creating the strategic plan takes about one school years, so work on the next strategic plan will begin in 2015.
By Amy G. Partain, Communications Associate
St. Mary's High School