By RENEE WEBB
Every fall hundreds of people from across the Diocese of Sioux City gather to celebrate and support Catholic education.
According to Dan Ryan, Ed.D., superintendent of Catholic schools, proceeds from the Bishop’s Dinner for Catholic Schools benefit every diocesan school through instructional grants.
“Instructional grants are dollars that go out to the Catholic schools for textbooks and technology – various student devices – that come from the fundraising efforts around the Bishop’s Dinner,” he said. “We want to keep our schools up-to-date.”
For many years funds from the dinner were used specifically for textbooks, but Ryan said as technology advanced, several years ago they felt a need to broaden the grants to include technology. These funds can be used for numerous high-tech devices and materials such as online books.
“It gives the schools three revenue streams to keep their materials up-to-date: instructional grants, state funds for textbooks and the school itself from the normal operating revenue,” said Ryan, who noted the diversified funding sources help ensure the schools can stay current as possible.
Because there are so many options with teaching materials and tools, schools can use the grant money in ways that best meet their own needs.
Amy Seuntjens, lead teacher at Danbury Catholic School, said, “The funds that we receive from the Bishop’s Dinner help our school by taking some of the burden from our parents and other shareholders. As a small size school these funds are crucial to the purchasing of up-to-date instructional materials.”
She pointed out that Danbury Catholic is growing and while that is a good thing, that growth does mean the school needs extra textbooks for the classes. Money from the Bishop’s Dinner helps with the additional costs.
“We have also used the funds to help cover our electronic reading program used by our students, as well as to purchase computers and iPads for student use,” said Seuntjens. “We have utilized it for technology enhancements and math manipulatives. There never seems to be a lack of usage for these funds.”
As Ryan reflected on the many ways the instructional grants have been used by Catholic schools in the diocese, he said there are many concrete ways the Bishop’s Dinner benefits the schools.
“The tickets people buy, the sponsorships – all of those things help put funds back out to all of our schools. The money doesn’t stay in the chancery,” he said.
Ryan pointed out that funds from the Bishop’s Dinner are distributed on not only a proportional basis based on school enrollment but also on ticket sales. A portion of each ticket can be designated to a particular school.
“The more people a school brings, the better the benefit for a local site,” he explained. “It is a positive for the school to have as many people at the dinner as possible. People can come to enjoy a great dinner, a great evening and then have it benefit their school.”
Seuntjens called the dinner a win-win for all because it is a special night that benefits many on so many levels.
“We would like to thank all of those who have attended the dinner in the past who have represented Danbury Catholic,” she said. “We are also thankful for the anonymous donations which allow additional people to go to the dinner. So many times our donors are unable to have such a special night while benefiting the education of our students and supporting them financially.”