Frequently Asked Questions
The Seton Collaborative is a new nonprofit corporation that will change the paradigm of school and parish operations. By providing transformative operational support to schools, parishes, and related entities, the Collaborative will promote and support academic excellence and spiritual growth.
The Collaborative will drive this transformational change by proactively identifying opportunities for improving efficiencies; standardizing and automating processes; sharing innovative ideas and best practices; developing staff; and leveraging economies of scale.
To strengthen our Catholic school system, we need to examine the “business side” of running schools and parishes and assess ways in which we can improve efficiencies, leverage best practices, and raise service levels. Given the current fiscal realities and the limited pool of priests simply cannot continue with “business as usual.” To ensure viability into the future, we must seize this opportunity to fundamentally rethink how we do business.
The Seton Collaborative OSN model enables the diocese to leverage resources across the system and achieve economies of scale and higher service levels. Additionally, by reducing redundancy and duplication of processes, the OSN can ensure consistency, standardize practice and attract and retain personnel with greater experience and expertise. Further, removing these management and administrative responsibilities from an already burdened school and parish leadership teams will allow the principals to focus their attention on curriculum, instruction, and student success and pastors to focus on their pastoral ministries. A shared service model balances the benefits of decentralized leadership with the benefits of a centralized business and support system thus creating greater efficiency while preserving the uniqueness and charism of each individual school.
Initially participation in this new model will be required for all Diocesan schools and will be open to all Diocesan sponsored (Academy and High Schools) and Parish Collaborative schools. Certain services will remain mandatory for all schools (i.e., student management system, fiber optic and network support). Schools that opt out of participation will have to demonstrate that they have an affordable service level that is equal to or better than that of the OSN.
During the second phase of this rollout the Seton Collaborative will also expand to offer support for all eighty-two parishes and other diocesan entities. This expansion will not only allow these entities to take advantage of higher quality and more affordable services, but also increases the economies of scale and benefits all other members of the network.
- Finance (accounting, bookkeeping)
- Human Resources (recruiting, hiring, benefits administration)
- IT and technology services
- Student support services (Speech, OT/PT, counseling)
- Transportation services
- Marketing and development
- Enrollment under the diocesan school’s umbrella
- Training and Development
- Facilities support
- Risk Management
- Contract Administration and Procurement
- Accounting, Business managers, and shared bookkeepers
- Shared technologies and management programs including:
- Student information system
- Tuition collection
- Grant and aid programs
- Instructional Technology support
- Technology infrastructure including:
- Shared central servers
- Telehealth and social work support
- Alumni support through Aquinas fellows pilot program
IT SUPPORT & SERVICE
Beginning in the Fall of 2021, a regional system of support will be created and appropriately staffed to provide schools affordable and efficient tech support. This support will include:
- Management of the fiber network
- Support for the school’s technology infrastructure
- Effective staffing of a help desk for hardware and software issues
- Enhanced cyber security
- Instructional technology management and support
To achieve economy of scale, this regional network will be staffed to ensure appropriate coverage for schools, and other diocesan entities who will share in its funding.
A Director of Finance will be hired to create strategies to enhance information flowing to school and parish administrators and to enhance the effective administration of diocesan fiscal policies. A team will be developed to provide regional support in the areas of accounting and bookkeeping to ensure consistency and professionalism across diocesan entities. Specific to schools, the finance team will support financial reporting, planning, and budgeting, Billing and collections and Grant and Aid program. Schools and Parishes and other diocesan entities who benefit from this network will share in its funding.
Where will we see positive impact in year two?
The Collaborative will build a small nucleus of Facility experts including plumbing, heating, air conditioning, electrical and construction to assist schools and parished with facility related challenges. It will also negotiate Blanket Purchase orders for facility related trades that member schools can utilize.
In the Fall of 2021, the Executive Director will design and implement a development strategy to enhance individual school’s fundraising efforts. As part of that strategy, development associates will be hired and shared across entities beginning in the Fall of 2022. The Executive Director will hire a Development Associate in the first year to assist in grant writing and/or major gifts.
STUDENT SUPPORT SERVICES
Working in collaboration with the Office of the Superintendent, the Seton collaborative will procure vendors or hire in-house staff to provide counseling services and, by year two, special education services. Coordination with Catholic schools, our telehealth provider and local school districts will allow more effective use of Title funds and IDEA funds. Additionally, a strategy will be developed for a diocesan wide middle school sports program and a transportation system to increase accessibility to our schools.
A Director of Enrollment Management will be hired in preparation for the start of the Fall 2022 school year to create an enrollment management strategy for schools. As part of this strategy a call center will be created and staffed by trained interns and Admissions Directors will be hired and shared across the school system. The Director of Enrollment Management will work with appropriate staff in the Office of the Superintendent to ensure consistency of branding and optimal use of community activities for marketing.
During the winter of 2021, A board made up of experienced entrepreneurial leaders was be formed to lead the collaborative. The board will begin work immediately to implement this initiative. Kevin Lawlor, the former Chief Operating Officer of Fairfield University.
As the program is launched, the Superintendent of Schools will serve as the Acting Executive Director and will work with the board to assist them in filling the position.
As the board is being formed, the Superintendent will work with the various departments of the diocese involved and with HR to develop job descriptions and policies so that the board has something from which to operate while they develop and refine policy in their early stages of development. To facilitate this transition, we will seek to hire a part time project manager and perhaps seek advice from an outside management consultant to help develop an efficient and effective organizational structure.