In the BK Connection (our monthly newsletter) released yesterday was the following letter from me. In the days ahead, I’ll address other issues related to the mid-year parent survey. We are grateful to all who filled it out.
We’re Not Perfect, But We Get Better Every Year
It’s Catholic Schools Week! What a great blessing to be a part of a school where Christ is at the center.
I often say to students, faculty, alumni and anyone who will listen that our school is not perfect. We all have ideas about ways to improve Bishop Kelley High School. Some ideas have been tried and found wanting; others lack the funding to pull them off. In some cases, there just isn’t the time and energy to get them done. What I hope you know is that we – the administrative team, the faculty, and the staff – are always trying to be better.
Back in December, we sent out a midyear survey to current parents. This survey, in combination with a May 2015 survey of current students, faculty, staff, and parents and the Class of 2015 exit interviews, gave us plenty of input to identify goals and improvements for the 2015-16 school year. The May survey and exit interviews took shape in our strategic plan presented to the faculty and staff and Advisory Council in August of 2015.
My purpose here is to address some of the issues raised in the midyear survey. Due to space constraints, I’ll address additional issues on my blog.
The first observation I take away from the midyear parent survey is that things are going well. I don’t say perfectly because we ALWAYS have room to improve. However, the overwhelming response from parents was that they are pleased with the education their students are receiving. We appreciate the positive comments about our programs and about individual faculty and staff.
Several comments related to communication between parents and teachers/coaches. This area has been a strong point of emphasis this year and between the end-of-the-year survey in May 2015 and the midyear survey in December 2015, we saw improvement. Philosophically, we want students to be responsible for information and to communicate it to parents as needed. That expectation of student responsibility sometimes leads to parents not knowing something. We want to empower your students to navigate an often fast-paced world. As a life preparatory school our students need to be responsible for their actions. That being said, if there is someone on staff who is not responding to emails or phone calls, please let us know. We are working with individual teachers who have not been posting grades or responding in a timely manner.
The responses in the midyear survey on the subject of alcohol testing were overwhelmingly positive. Not everyone is fully on board and we certainly understand that. Throughout this semester we plan to disseminate information to parents and students to clear up any misconceptions and to answer questions regarding this procedure. If you have questions now, they can be directed to Jeff Pratt, Dean of Students or see the Q&A section of the website regarding drug and alcohol testing.
When dress code is one of the bigger issues we face at BK, we count that as a blessing. Some comments in the midyear survey made note of what is seen as a lax dress code policy. Others said we are being too strict. In response, I will say that we value our dress code and promise to remain vigilant to see that it is fairly enforced for the safety and well-being of our students.
Strength and Conditioning Coach
For several years now, the idea of adding a strength and conditioning coach has been discussed. Several of you commented on the need for one and we agree. With the new weight room now in place in the Dill Family Fieldhouse, the time is right to add this position for the betterment of our students. If you know someone interested in applying for the position, please send them this link.
Several comments addressed the workings of our counseling department. Thank you for the many positive comments regarding their efforts on both the academic/college side and as well as on the social/emotional counseling side. One issue that surfaced in the midyear survey was that a particular counselor was not holding a particular student accountable. As previously mentioned with regard to communication, we try to put the information into the hands of students so they can advocate for themselves as they grow into young men and women.
To learn more about BK Counseling, here are a few links:
Fundraising for Athletics vs. Academics
Recent improvements in athletic facilities were addressed in the survey by a number of respondents. Many comments were positive but a few called into question what looks to be an overemphasis on athletic facilities versus those for academics. I hear you and understand those concerns but I want to set the record straight. No doubt we have undertaken a number of high profile athletic improvements in the last several years including two new gym floors, the Smith Wrestling Room, the Ritchie Cheer Gym, the Scalet Family Fieldhouse, and the Dill Family Fieldhouse. These projects were all needed improvements that will serve us well for many years to come.
The many improvements on the academic and social side during the last ten years may be overlooked because these projects are not necessarily as consolidated or as visible. They are significant and include:
- Established the Bertelsmeyer Science Lab
- Created and funded a second robotics team
- New buses, van, and truck with snow plow
- Significant improvements in the Auditorium
- Wireless capability
- Renovation of the Mary, Queen of Peace Center to include a counseling center, Brother Bernardine Scholars Room, iConnect Room, classrooms, and the Admissions Office
- The Stephenson Family Library/Media Center
- Technology upgrades throughout campus
- Conversion of half the square footage of the school to a geothermal heating/cooling system
We also continue to budget resources to pay off the 20-year loan (our only debt as a school) for the Brother David Poos Science and Technology Center. This $256,632 yearly payment will end in 2021.
This year’s “Believe in Kelley” Annual Fund is earmarked to renovate classrooms by enhancing our journalism and BKTV broadcast programs and allow us to install an almost instantaneous lockdown system.
In addition, fundraising resources are consistently dedicated to growing our endowment and increasing tuition assistance for our neediest families.
Our Advancement Office is here to match the needs of the school to the passions of donors and over the last several years those passions have been mostly athletic in nature. When you give to BK you can designate gifts to various areas of the school according to your passions. Our list of needs is LONG!
On that note, I’m excited to announce that we recently received a significant gift to start an endowment for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Education at BK. We hope to grow this endowment so we can recruit the best teachers and provide all the needed resources to have the best science and math programs in Oklahoma.
It’s a great time to be at Bishop Kelley! I hope this response to some of the major themes of the midyear parent survey has been helpful. We are paying attention and are working to improve every day. With all that being said, know that we love our students and strive to live up to the great tradition of Catholic, Lasallian education handed on to us.
Rev. Brian O’Brien