Regional Planning Update

In a continued effort to keep you updated on regional progress, I hope this communication will provide helpful insight regarding the connection between teacher pay, tuition and tuition assistance in the new regional model. 

A primary goal of regionalization is to increase compensation so we can retain and attract the best teachers. On average, our first-year teacher salaries at K-8 schools are 35% lower than the starting pay in public schools and vary by more than $13,000 across Catholic schools in Des Moines. Over the last several years we have been able to match the public school pay scale at Dowling Catholic and have set a five-year goal to do the same for teachers in all of our schools. 

This month pastors, principals and business managers from each school are meeting with regional staff to develop a multi-year plan for teacher salaries, tuition and tuition assistance. In the Des Moines region tuition has always been lower than the cost to educate each student. Support from parishes and donors makes this possible. Keeping tuition affordable for all families remains a top priority as we look at teacher compensation and the sustainability of our current model. 

Last year approximately 37% of families received some form of tuition assistance. This year we anticipate up to 15% more families may qualify based on expanded guidelines and additional funding from the Catholic Tuition Organization (CTO), the diocesan Ignite Campaign and other sources. New guidelines will be available late January. 

The tuition assistance application process opens February 1. The application deadline is April 17, 2023. Families are encouraged to apply earlier this year given the additional funding available. Early applications will provide information to better understand and meet the needs of more families. If you would like to receive additional updates and reminders regarding the tuition assistance process, please click here

We appreciate your support as we work together to sustain a strong future for our Catholic schools. We could not fulfill our mission without our caring and dedicated teachers.


Dr. Dan Ryan
President, Des Moines Region and Dowling Catholic High School

Regional Planning Update 11-10-22 - Spanish

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.