Thursday, October 9, 2008


The Vatican is becoming the first city state to completely erase its carbon footprint. Here is a news story on this effort and here is a video clip.

To be quite frank this year has me a bit spooked – between the economy and the rising cost of fuels, what kind of beating are parish schools going to take and what kind of tuition will we need to charge next year to cover these costs? Of course if you charge more for tuition you get less students which means you need to charge more tuition but then you get less students which means . . .

Solar energy would be such a boon. Having that terrible burden off of our shoulders would aid the school tremendously. The vast expanse of roofline with a wonderful gunwale around it would allow our school to go green without ruining the architecture. This part of Ohio is rated “good” (on a scale that goes up to great) for solar energy.

My question is: Does anybody know if there is a way for a church/school to get in on this deal without having to have six million dollars to install???

Just something that I think about before falling asleep at night. Busy day so sorry for the short and uninteresting post.


Odysseus said...

Well, since I started a Catholic school a couple years ago, I have an opinion you might want to hear.

Our school (my children still attend though I don't teach there anymore) is small. About seventy students, grades Pre-K to 7th. When I started it, we had a little more than fifty. But I had to go to all the principals' meetings for the diocese of Phoenix.

They got some big schools down there in that city!

So, here I was, attending meetings with prinicpals who had been at it for 30 or 40 years, in charge of schools with thousands of students and dozens of large buildings (all of which have utilities bills, maintenance, taxes, etc). It was pretty humbling. Those men and women are responsible for huge burdens: students, staff, finances. You probably know what I am talking about.

I think we need smaller schools.

Many Catholic schools have gone the same route as public schools and created these giant 'plants' (I believe that is the technical term) and they can easily become factories, whose job is to churn out students.

Even in a small school, I can attest to the difficulty in losing focus on duty to form Christian minds rather than finance the school and nuild nice playgrounds and sports' facilities. It is hard, perhaps impossible, even at a small school, to ensure the orthodoxy of your staff. (Indeed, last year two of the four teachers were Protestants, though they had to sign waivers to teach Catholic prinicples). I can't imagine how difficult that would be in a big school. (At my first prinicpals' meeting, I got a nice view of an elementary school's principal's tattoo. As she leaned over her shirt pulled away from her posterior and I got to see the interesting design just above her youknowwhatsis. See what I mean? I became a little concerned at that point. And distracted.)

Lots of little schools sound like a headache. I know. But I think someone should look into the capabilities of a small to school to form Catholics, rather than a big schools' ability to meet state standards and play football. If small schools are better at orthodoxy and forming 'whole' people and not just automatons who meet standards AND know a little doctrine, I should think it would be worth the headaches.

That's my two pieces of silver!

Anonymous said...

Reading your post reminded me of a Guidepost article I had read several years ago about a Protestant Church in California installing solar panels. I found the article on their webpage Anyways I don't know if it helps, but I thought I would share it, as a science teacher I'm all for going green, but of course that requires quite a bit of green in some cases to get started.

Anonymous said...

There are grants available from the state of Ohio to install solar. See this link:

Scroll to the bottom to the renewable energy funding. I believe you would be a customer of First Energy and would therefore qualify.

My limited expertise says you wouldn't see a financial benefit for several years, but if you were serious I imagine you'd talk to a professional to know for sure.


Melody K said...

Rob, you are right that sometimes small is beautiful. But there is a certain critical mass of students; that if a school falls below it, it is going to have a hard time surviving. I just returned from a visit to my hometown. The survival of their parish school, which I attended as a child, is in question. In the 50's and 60's there were over 200 children, 1st-8th grade, in that school. Now there are between 40 and 50, K-5th grade. Back in the day we had religious sisters who were paid a stipend of $75/month (whose order is now in dire straits because they have no money to support there elderly sisters, who outnumber the younger ones). I asked my sister, who is on the endowment board, why more parents weren't sending their children. She said that the sports program was very limited, which is a biggie for some people. Also at the salary they are able to pay, the best teachers are more likely to work at the public school. Plus there are more enrichment programs in the public school (when I was a kid, my family provided my "enrichment protram!) My sister and other family members feel that it is only a matter of time before the school goes under. Which is sad. We discussed that education had become a consumer product, that in order for parochial schools to thrive we would have to get out of that mentality. But I don't know how you do that.

Fr. V said...

It would be cool to be able to have a small school - but people are looking for a lot. There is also the problem of there being a LOT of Catholic kids around here to educate. We couldn't start that many schools and quite frankly most people would not want to be a part of something that didn't provide all of the extras - though in the long run I wonder if the personal attention would not be more beneficial than all of the extras.

Around these parts if a school falls beneath about 200 students the viability of the school is in question. That is the amount needed to even dream of being able to afford benefits for our teachers (which is the #1 biggest expense for the school.)

It's kind of like the arms race - you try to keep up with the Jones' who in turn try to keep up with you. If you don't you loose. We are fortunate to be a major player but I worry about Catholic schools in general.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Catholic folks ought to (or already do) organize home-schooling cooperatives, taking turns for different subjects at different families' homes, etc.

*Green* roofs are interesting, tho'. I think we're only beginning to see the beginning of sustaining measures.