The Catholic Courier has published an online piece on Anne Willkens Leach, the incoming Superintendent of the Monroe County Catholic Schools System.
According to the story,
Willkens Leach will assume her new position on the heels of a downsizing that saw 13 of 24 Catholic elementary and junior high schools in Monroe County close at the end of the 2007-08 school year. A 14th diocesan school -- Holy Family in Dansville, Livingston County -- also closed.
"One of the things I want to do is keep the schools that are open, open," Willkens Leach said.
While she feels that it's too early to compile a long list of specific goals, she said she does plan to visit each diocesan school and get to know those communities.
"I want them to know I'm going to be a visible presence," she said. "One of my key gifts is that I lead by collaboration."
Willkens Leach's gregarious personality might be just what the doctor ordered. She said it's important to restore confidence in Catholic schools and the Rochester Diocese, though "I appreciate the (negative) emotions that are still there."
At least the new Superintendent is a realist who recognizes that public confidence in the MCCS System and in the diocese is at an all time low. Those "(negative) emotions" to which she refers are actually the learned experience of years of MCCS and diocesan management blunders that have driven our school system nearly into the ground. Restoring any semblance of confidence is going to be a long, uphill slog, especially since the events of last January have shown just how little genuine authority any MCCS Superintendent actually has.
Any significant deviation from the financial results expected by the diocese will almost certainly result in the convening of another committee of the well-off and the well-connected who will meet in secret and give Willkens Leach new marching orders, with the potential result of one more Superintendent resigning "for personal reasons."
With that potential scenario always hanging in the background it will be difficult for many of us to have any confidence in Willkens Leach or anyone else in her position.