Butte Central schools students gather for mass

Butte Central Catholic Schools students gather at St. Ann's Catholic Church for an all-schools mass. 

What's the state of Butte Central Catholic Schools? 

The short answer is immense growth, according to J.P. Williams, the principal of Butte Central High School.

According to Williams, the schools' budgets, enrollment and new programs have all expanded since the start of the 2018-2019 school year. 

Last week, Central held a presentation on the state of Butte Central schools in the high school auditorium. And more recently, in his office, Williams took a detailed dive into the numbers.  

The high school is up 12 students from May of last year and the elementary and middle school is up 39 students. The expenses and revenue for Butte Central Schools is the exact same “to the penny,” Williams said, at $2,773,306. And the Catholic schools are preparing to launch into the third phase of their over $3 million capital fund drive, which aims to improve areas like tuition assistance for Butte Central students.

But although Williams expressed great excitement about all of the growth Central schools have seen, he also said it has triggered the administrators to look for balance.

“We’ve seen a lot of good growth, but we constantly ask, 'Can we still service our students, or are we overcrowded?'” Williams said. “Parents want their students to come here because we have smaller classrooms and because faith is a huge component. … So it becomes sort of a juggling act.”

Don Peoples, president of Butte Central Schools, said Central isn’t overcrowded yet and does not have a waiting list for its schools, but he also noted that administrators remain cognizant of maintaining low teacher-to-student ratios.

Both Peoples and Williams said continued growth within the Catholic schools means raising millions through the capital fund drive will help them do more for Central students.

According to Peoples, Butte Central has raised $2.3 of the $3.7 million so far. Central plans to launch the “race to the finish” phase of its fund drive after Easter.

“We’ve had some really great success with the fund drive so far and will go until we meet our goal,” Peoples said.

Peoples also mentioned the great fundraising success Butte Central Schools had at its annual auction, which was held in late March. The schools raised about $120,000, nearly double what they usually make at the auction, Peoples said. He also noted that the auction drew “one of the biggest crowds ever.”

Outside of enrollment and fundraising efforts, Peoples and Williams also discussed the recent growth Central student clubs and academic programs have seen over the past year. That growth was detailed in the second half of the State of Butte Central presentation.

Williams said the high school is looking to offer five dual-credit courses next fall, up from two. He also said more of his students are getting involved in school clubs, like Key Club and drama club.

Williams said all of the Central schools are working to grow their academic programs, and that Butte Central Schools is looking to better market its legacy as a private Catholic school system and to promote what it has to offer to the “global community.”

Central recently hired a marketing group that has worked with Catholic schools all over the Northwest to create a new website and promotional video for Butte Central Schools, which should launch this spring.

“It’s important that we don’t forget the past, but it’s even more important that we prepare for the future,” Williams said, noting that it's a future he and his fellow administrators are looking forward to.

“Overall, we’ve seen improvements in everything, every aspect of the school system, which is really exciting,” Williams said. 

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