As with other private schools in the nation, Catholic schools are seeing a decline in enrollment. Hoping to reverse that trend, the Diocese of St. Petersburg is in the midst of drawing up a strategic plan for its schools in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Citrus, Hernando and Pasco counties.
The strategic plan is looking at five areas: Catholic identity, finances, leadership, reimagining and academic excellence. A draft of the plan still is being reviewed.
"The Bishop of the Diocese of St. Petersburg realized the need to look at a new way of Catholic education in the diocese," wrote superintendent Alberto Vazquez-Matos in an executive summary about the effort.
In 2010, the diocese hired Vazquez-Matos — the youngest superintendent ever — to help boost enrollment, reach out to Hispanic students and strengthen the overall system.
He launched an initiative to study enrollment and demographic trends of students in the diocese's schools and proposed drawing up a five-year strategic plan to either revamp or replace the diocese's parochial schools model.
"There is a need to vitalize and strengthen our schools throughout the diocese, as well as to make sure there is accessibility to Catholic education in every area of the diocese," Vazquez-Matos wrote in his summary. "Catholic education has been challenged over the years. … Overcoming these challenges calls for transformational and entrepreneurial thinking."