Planning for the Future
Dear Bishop Watterson Community,
Thank you to those who participated in our Planning for the Future survey. Your feedback and interest is a key component to the success and growth of our school and we intend to use the data to guide us as we move forward. While the survey revealed numerous helpful findings, I would like to highlight a few recurring subjects in the comment sections and provide what I hope is a more complete understanding.
Field of Dreams
Field of Dreams was the theme for the 2014 Eagle Auction, the proceeds from which were applied to the Athletic Campus Project which had three phases.
Phase 1: renovation of the basement-level locker rooms
Phase 2: improvements to the field behind the school
Phase 3: Hagely Field renovations
The auction proceeds of approximately $70,000 were applied to the locker room and training room renovations, an achievable $1.5 million first phase of the project which was completed in 2015. There are no other donations or pledges being held for athletic facilities.
It is the focus of the Administration and Athletic Department to ensure that each sport has space to practice and play games. We are in the process of exploring different options in Columbus and neighboring areas for our teams to use. This process takes time and consideration since there are usually several factors at play in each of these decisions. Some have asked about our progress toward renovating the fields behind the school, often referred to as the “backfield.” While this sounds like a simple solution, there are two key issues with it: cost and not being able to meet the space needs of all teams after renovation.
Backfield Cost: The project cost is $5 million. The survey clearly showed that our donor base does not have the interest or capacity to fund such an expensive project. Even if we determined from this survey and ongoing research that we had donors willing to contribute the sums necessary, it would not be an immediate solution as the project would require several years for fundraising and completion.
Space Requirements: Even with renovations to this field area, we would still need more space to accommodate all of our teams that need practice and game fields during the fall and spring season.
While the on-campus athletic facility renovations are not the solution in the near future, it is possible they will be feasible further down the line.
One overwhelming result of the survey was the community’s focus on keeping Catholic education affordable for all students. It was the belief of the majority that tuition assistance, whether through endowment or grants, needs to remain a major focus of Bishop Watterson. Tuition assistance is what provides the institution with the flexibility to help students come to Bishop Watterson who may not be able to pay the full cost of tuition. Currently one third of our students receive some sort of tuition assistance. In order for Bishop Watterson to keep the school’s enrollment high, and the mission strong, we must have the financial resources to help anyone who wants a Catholic high school education but cannot afford one. Many of our families are blessed to be able to pay full tuition, but it is through philanthropy and inclusiveness that our students learn the true dignity of the human person.
Lastly, many concerns were shared about parking. Parking has been an issue at Bishop Watterson since it became common for teenagers to have their own cars. The days of taking the bus to school or hitchhiking are now a memory of my high school years at Bishop Watterson. With this change in transportation, and no ability to increase our space for parking, we are challenged with more drivers than spots. In addition, laws have been put into place that regulate the number of students who can drive together in a vehicle based on age and experience. Each year we do our best to accommodate as many student drivers as possible, especially the ones that directly help the most students. As some of you are quick to point out, there are flaws in that system, but it is the best system we have found to be fair when issuing parking spaces. We are always looking for ways to improve this difficult task.
I appreciate all of you who took the time to complete this survey which will serve as a resource for Bishop Watterson. I look forward to a strong finish to the school year as we begin our planning for the future.
Deacon Chris Campbell
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