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Catholic-School Survey Documents Who Oversees Management Tasks

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One in five Roman Catholic high schools assigns the management of its nonacademic affairs to an officer, typically a layperson, other than the principal, according to a financial survey issued this month by the National Catholic Educational Association.

These schools, the study found, tend to be all-male; to be independent of a diocese or a parish; to attract wealthier students; to have a full-time development office; and to have more successful annual fundraising efforts.

The findings are based on data from 285 Catholic secondary schools, or 22 percent of the total.

This year marked the first time the N.C.E.A. asked its members about their administrative structures.

President-Principal Model

The survey found that some schools have divided their management responsibilities between a president and a principal, in much the same way that a company might divide duties between a chief executive officer and a chief operating officer.

Michael J. Guerra, the report's author and the executive director of N.C.E.A.'s secondary school department, cautioned that it is unclear whether adoption of the administrative model caused the schools' success.

Mr. Guerra said Catholic high schools could be compared to a hospital ward full of patients, some of whom are "coming along just fine,'' while others are "struggling'' or even in "very bad shape.''

Catholic high schools operate on budgets that are "only just balanced,'' according to the report, "with essentially no margin for unanticipated expenses, debt reduction, or deferred maintenance.''

Other Findings

Among the survey's other findings:

  • Tuition at Catholic high schools rose significantly between the 1989-90 and 1991-92 school years. The average 9th-grade tuition jumped by 22.5 percent, from $2,299 to $2,817.
  • The average grant grew by 10 percent between 1989 and 1991, from $880 to $966.
  • Applications were up 22 percent, an indication, Mr. Guerra said, that more sophisticated marketing and recruiting efforts implemented recently are paying off.
  • More high schools are adding grades 7 and 8. In 1987, only one school in 20 reported a 7-12 structure. By 1992, one in eight schools reported having such an arrangement.

Copies of "Dollars and Sense: Catholic Schools and Their Finances, 1992'' are available for $12 each from the N.C.E.A. publications department, 1077 30th St., N.W., Suite 100, Washington, D.C. 20007; (202) 337-6232.

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