Saturday, July 12, 2008

New MCCS Superintendent Wants to Restore Confidence

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.


CathParent said...

I appreciate what she wants to do. Actually setting foot in the schools is a good first step. I wish someone had done that with HT before they closed it, their decision might have been different.
100% of our students passed the state exams this year. We had a wonderful program in place.They already "redistributed" all of our computers and smart boards to upgrade the technology at the remaining schools.
As for building confidence, maybe she should meet with some of the groups who wish to reopen their schools in addition to shoring up the existing ones.

Mike said...


As I said, she's got a long, uphill slog ahead of her. Meeting with parents who tried to keep their schools open might be a good step, if only for the PR value.

I think they will be cleaning out the rest of their stuff from Holy Cross this week. They wanted to come last week, but we had a VBS program running and didn't want a bunch of guys with loaded hand trucks sharing the halls with about 60 K-5 kids.

They picked up all their computers a week ago. Someone told one of our staffers that about 2/3 of them are new enough to use elsewhere, while the other 1/3 will be recycled. This really ticked off the lady running our Pre-K, who could easily have used the older technology in her program.

CathParent said...

Even if the computers are new enough to use elsewhere, do they actually need them? They closed 13 schools, and the remaining 11 already had computers. There is a fee to recycle electronics.
As usual, they would rather throw away money than give in. There is no reason the preschool programs at HC and HT couldn't have had some of those computers, except spite.