Superintendent of Schools Announcement

His Excellency, The Most Reverend Edward K. Braxton,
Bishop of Belleville, 
makes the following announcement.

October 4, 2018
St. Francis of Assisi

The Most Reverend Edward K. Braxton has formally appointed Mr. Jonathan Birdsong as the Director of the Department of Faith Formation with specific responsibilities as Director of Education and Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Belleville. At the same time, Pastors of parishes with schools will no longer have the title Superintendent of Schools. This change, which is effective immediately, brings the Diocese of Belleville into conformity with every Catholic Diocese in the United States. Parish Pastors do not have this title in any other Diocese in the United States.

In order to allow Pastors to serve in in his primarily pastoral role in our Catholic Schools, this adjustment will make the best use of the areas of expertise of both Mr. Birdsong and the Pastors. Ultimately, this change provides an opportunity for improvements to both the academic structure and processes of the schools as well as the faith formation of our students.  

In discussing this change with Mr. Thomas Posnanski, the former Director of the Department of Education and Faith Formation, he expressed to the Bishop his complete support.

Mr. Posnanski indicated that he believed the use of the title Superintendent of Schools by Pastors began when the schools of St. Dominic Parish in Breese, St. Augustine Parish in Breese, and St. Anthony Parish in Beckemeyer merged to form All Saints Academy, and later the agreement for St. Clare of Assisi Parish and St. Nicholas Parish to provide financial support St. Clare Catholic School. Monsignor Donald W. Eichenseer was the first Pastor to use the title of Superintendent and other pastors followed the pattern. There was no formal discussion of this change and there was no official announcement of this change by the Chancery. Mr. Posnanski indicated that he did not question this unusual practice because he did not wish to convey an undue concern about his authority. He also said that only certain Pastors seemed to use this title. Mr. Posnanski and Mr. Birdsong agreed with the Bishop that this change would not in any way diminish the overall responsibility of Pastors to the Bishop for the school that is a part of his parish. At the same time, the change would underscore the Pastor’s unique pastoral role in the school.

The attached note below provides a brief description of the distinct responsibilities of the Superintendent of Schools and the Pastor of the Parish.

The following list of duties and situations (which is not exhaustive) should assist Pastors, Principals and Teachers to better understand the different roles played by the Pastor and the Superintendent of Schools.

As Superintendent of Schools, Mr. Birdsong will:

* Provide training and support for building principals and other administrators, as appropriate.
* Act as a direct resource for all principals for matters needing additional support or clarification.
* Interpret Illinois State and Federal Laws that both directly and/or indirectly affect our schools.
* Assist pastors in their efforts to support Catholic Schools by finding and providing needed resources.
* Provide professional leadership by collaboratively developing goals and objectives for our schools, and overseeing their     
* Provide insight and support to building principals in regards to parent concerns, suspensions, expulsions, etc. as needed.

Pastors with Catholic Schools should:

* Oversee the general functions of the school, but should not be responsible for the day-to-day

   administration of the school.
* Visit school regularly and interact with students to help create more pastoral opportunities-including but

   not limited to weekly Mass.
* Encourage Principal to contact Mr. Birdsong with issues concerning legal items, curricular adjustments,

   professional development, program implementation, or other school specific items.
* Promote Catholic Schools and Catholic Education from the pulpit, in parish bulletins, on parish websites,

   and other forms of communications specific to each parish.
* Work in conjunction with the Superintendent of Schools during the hiring of new principals and if a

   remediation process involving principals is needed.
* Help create and cultivate a safe environment for all children who are placed in our care by working with

   location coordinators and principals to ensure all employees, volunteers, and visitors (who are required by

   policy) are compliant with the current Child Protection Policy of the Diocese of Belleville.

*When difficulties arise or when parents have concerns, they should speak first to the teacher, then to the

   principal, and finally to the Pastor. Only the most serious issues should be brought to the Superintendent.

His Excellency,
The Most Reverend 
Edward K. Braxton,
Ph.D., S.T.D.