Regional Planning Update

Dear Friends, 

I am writing to provide an update on the Des Moines region. Highlighted below you will find the announcement of our regional board of directors as well as progress in aligning business operations.

The regional board of directors will be comprised of lay members and clergy who will exercise authority in the following areas: compensation planning, tuition rates, tuition assistance management, business operations, communications and governance and policy. I am pleased to announce the following lay members and will share the names of clergy as they are appointed by Bishop Joensen. 

Steve Lacy, Regional Board Chair
As former CEO and executive chairman of Meredith Corporation, Steve brings extensive business acumen and leadership experience to the position. He has been an advocate for Catholic education for many years and has served in key leadership roles on the Dowling Catholic foundation board and other diocesan and community initiatives, including the Ignite Campaign. Steve and his wife Cathy are parents to two DCHS alumni and are members of St. Augustin Parish. 

Mary Coffin
As a former executive vice president with Wells Fargo, Mary has extensive experience overseeing large scale operations, engineering customer design processes and data analytics. Mary has been active in the community, serving on several boards and advisory groups for local and statewide charities, including Grand View College, Principal Charity Classic, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Iowa, Community Foundation Board, the Greater Des Moines Partnership Financial Services Council and the University of Northern Iowa Foundation Board. She has also served on the Bishop’s Council and is involved with the Ignite Campaign. Mary and her husband Don are parents to four DCHS alumni and are members of Sacred Heart Parish. 
Miquel Hadsall
Miquel currently serves as Vice President of Finance at Beal Derkenne Construction, with expertise in executive management, finance and accounting. Miquel is a current member of Dowling Catholic’s Board of Education, a former St. Joseph Board of Education member, and has been involved in community initiatives such as the St. Joseph Gala and the St. Joseph Centennial Campaign. Miquel and her husband Jason are members of St. Joseph Parish and are parents to five Catholic school students and one alum.  

Brian Johnson
As a senior vice president for Casey’s General Stores, Brian has extensive experience in finance, mergers and acquisitions, real estate development and investor relations. Brian and his wife Tricia are parents to three children attending Catholic schools and are members of Saint Pius X Parish. 

Mark Schaul
Mark is the former president and CFO of SNI Companies and holds expertise in building teams and growing a business both via acquisition and internal growth. Mark and his wife Marcia are members of Sacred Heart Parish. They are the parents of two DCHS alumni and grandparents to four students currently attending Dowling and Sacred Heart Catholic Schools. Mark is also the past president of Des Moines Golf and Country Club, treasurer and board member of the DMAM Rotary Club for over 25 years, and a board member of the DMAM Rotary Foundation and the Des Moines Golf and Country Club Foundation.

Luis Valdes
Luis is the former president and CEO and current chairman of Principal International. His areas of expertise include business management, finance and investments, strategic development, corporate governance and multicultural knowledge. Luis is also a mentor at Dowling Catholic and meets weekly with students to discuss academic progress and advocacy skills. He and his wife Maria Isabel Echazu have five children and four grandchildren. They currently serve on the Bishop’s Council and are members of St. Francis Parish.

Business Operations
In the area of business operations, it has been determined that St. Joseph Catholic School will be the first to pilot the regional business model which will include a common chart of accounts and joint budgeting process. Staff members from St. Joseph have been meeting with the regional business operations committee to begin planning for the upcoming fiscal year. Additional schools may also be engaged during the pilot period. Budgets and school operations will remain the same for the 2022-23 school year. 

Another important step underway is development of the agreement between the region and each parish. This agreement will reflect that parishes will retain ownership of each school building and will address key categories including educational materials, technology, maintenance and grounds, utilities, insurance and others. 

Tuition Assistance
Increasing tuition assistance is a top priority for the new region and important steps have already taken place. It is anticipated that additional funds from the Catholic Tuition Organization (CTO) will provide $800,000 to $1 million in tuition assistance to families in the Des Moines region for the 2023-2024 school year. Local entities and the Diocese are working together to develop a process to anticipate need and allocate funds consistently. 

Business managers and administrators will continue to work with regional staff throughout the summer. I look forward to providing you with an update on our progress at the start of the new school year. I am grateful for the ongoing collaboration of the many groups and individuals involved in this important initiative. 


Dr. Dan Ryan 

Frequently Asked Questions

List of 8 frequently asked questions.

  • What is the region? Which schools are included?

    This is a proven model that has been successfully implemented by Catholic schools across the country. The region will consist of the eleven Catholic grade schools in the Des Moines Metro and Dowling Catholic High School. All of these schools will continue to function in their current locations serving the grade spans that they do today. Currently, each grade school is attached to one parish which is responsible for the entire operation of the school. The regional model will bring the schools together in a system that will enhance operations through collaboration and leveraging of collective resources. Each school will benefit from greater efficiency with the consolidation of overhead services such as human resources and accounting that each school is currently managing separately. Working in concert with the diocese, the region will make it possible to direct resources towards making our schools better while preserving the traditions, culture and individual identities of each school.
  • Why are we implementing a regional model?

    The increasing complexity of running schools and the cost to sustain an exceptional Catholic education requires a strategic approach. This new approach will facilitate long term planning, streamlined operations and the sustainability of our schools for decades to come. The regional model will also provide the opportunity to address teacher pay and retention which directly correlates with positive student outcomes. In addition,  increasing tuition assistance will be a top priority which aligns with our mission of providing access for all who value and seek a Catholic education.
  • What does this mean for parents and students?

    This will not be a monumental change for parents, students or teachers in their day-to-day activities. Each school will maintain their individual uniforms, faith activities, athletic teams, and other aspects that make them unique. Community events such as the annual gala and other traditions will also continue as they have in the past. In fact, the region has identified a goal of not only protecting the unique identity of each school, but also providing a process to help articulate a vision for each school.
  • How will this change the roles of the pastors and principals?

    Operating a school has become much more complex over the years. Asking pastors to fulfill the wide variety of roles required to operate a parish and school is no longer realistic. The regional system will provide the opportunity to better define the role of the pastor as it pertains to the operation of the school so his role as the spiritual and faith leader in the parish and school can be accomplished more effectively. 

    The same is true for what is required of principals. Over time business operations will be centralized in the regional model, allowing principals to focus their attention and efforts on student outcomes, faith and values, hiring and supporting teachers, and ultimately providing the highest quality Catholic education for their students.
  • How will the parishes and schools stay connected?

    In the regional model the local school must remain an active partner of the parish. The involvement of the clergy in the day-to-day faith activities of the school community is essential to the faith formation of faculty, staff and students. This model would remove the operational activities from the clergy and prioritize the spiritual needs of the school community and parish. Pastors, principals and local boards have been discussing new opportunities to bring school and parish families together as a faith community.
  • What is the timeline for this change?

    For the coming 2022-23 school year all of the fiscal, governance and hiring will continue as it has in the past at the local school. In the winter of 2022 a legal and canonical entity will be formed. A Board of Education for the region will be formed with representation from pastors and lay members with the necessary areas of expertise. Leadership will be hired and the board will form committees to begin working on planning and implementation of the region.
  • How will we be updated on the progress of the region? 

    A communication will go out each month to parents and parishioners with progress updates and other information. This information will be distributed through the school and parish bulletins and will also be available on the regional website. The regional website also includes a form to submit questions and the FAQ document which will be updated regularly. You can also look for monthly updates in the Catholic Mirror.
  • Will my tuition increase?

    For the coming year each school will retain their own budget. Under the current model tuition does increase each year in small increments and it will continue to do so. Increasing tuition assistance is a top priority for the new region and important steps have already taken place. For example, additional funds from the Catholic Tuition Organization (CTO) are becoming available for the 2023-2024 school year. In addition, a specific portion of the Diocesan Ignite campaign will provide over $1 million in tuition assistance to families in the Des Moines region. The goal is to work towards creating a common tuition model over the coming five years.