CTR CATHOLIC BOARD HIGHLIGHTS

from Board Meeting held on November 25, 2021

BOARD APPROVES ANNUAL EDUCATION RESULTS REPORT (AERR)

The Board passed a motion approving Christ The Redeemer Catholic’s (CTR) Annual Education Results Report.


The AERR includes statistical measures, such as high school completion rates and dropout rates, but also a variety of survey results from parents, staff, and students. In a typical year, Diploma and Provincial Achievement Tests would be reported, but they were cancelled by the Ministry for the second year in a row due to COVID-19.


Divisional results stayed remarkably positive despite the pandemic, with CTR’s schools averaging better performance and higher satisfaction than the provincial averages on each of the eight measures. CTR’s average rate of satisfaction across all measures was 90% as compared to a provincial satisfaction rate of 85%.


Responses to Faith survey questions remain both consistent with past years and very high, with an average satisfaction rate across all questions at 94%.


Superintendent Morrison credited CTR’s resilient teachers and school administrators with producing such high levels of satisfaction. He added that their commitment to interactive live streaming during learning disruptions was something that probably increased satisfaction with the school experience.


The full AERR is located here.

BOARD APPROVES AUDITED FINANCIAL STATEMENTS FOR 2020-2021

After hearing a robust presentation from Director of Corporate Services, Katelyn Nickel, the Audit Committee recommended that the Board approve the 2020-2021 Audited Financial Statements. The Board passed the motion, approving the statement.


As of August 31st, 2021, CTR continues to remain in a strong financial position. The Statement revealed CTR realized a $3 million operating surplus in the 2020/2021 school year due to six major factors on both the revenue and expense sides of the ledger: 1) The division received a $4.2 million Safe Return to Class COVID-19 grant after the budget was set and the year began; 2) The enrolment at The Centre For Learning@HOME increased substantially due to its established online school, 3) Alberta Education unexpectedly provided a grant of $1.19 million to offset some of CTR’s insurance premium cost increase; 4) The division successfully settled a legal issue yielding approximately $1 million in frozen funds; 5) The division spent less money on professional development and travel due to COVID-19; and 6) Substitute teacher costs did not increase as much as budgeted, because teachers isolating at home could still teach when they were not ill and sub costs were almost eliminated for professional development and extra-curricular purposes.


Over $1.4 million of the Safe Return to Class COVID-19 grant has been carried over to the 2022 fiscal year to maintain staffing levels at our schools, which are still slightly overstaffed due to COVID-19. As of August 31st, 2021, Christ the Redeemer’s adjusted operational reserves equates to approximately 4.3% of total expenditures. CTR’s capital reserves balance, which can only be used to purchase capital items, such as computers, real estate, and vehicles, equates to approximately $6.1 million.


A one page summary of the Audited Statement is included on page 23 of the AERR and the detailed Audited Financial Statement is located here.

WARD HIGHLIGHT OF THE MONTH

At each Board Meeting, the trustees select one highlight arising out of the eight Ward Committee meetings we have around the Division every three months. A Ward meeting is attended by trustees, the superintendent, principals, school council chairs, and parish priests. After hearing the report from the Canmore Ward meeting, the Board agreed to highlight coding, robotics, and 3D printing.

CANMORE WARD HIGHLIGHT

Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Academy teacher Luc Arvisais is the brains and driving force behind Fab Labs, which includes engaging activities for secondary students, centered around, among other things, coding, robotics, and 3D printing. Board members were inspired by Mr. Arvisais’ program and discussion ensued about expanding these types of initiatives to other schools.

WARD COMMITTEE REPORTS

The communities of Canmore and Drumheller hosted a Ward meeting since the October 30th Board meeting. The minutes with more detail are attached to the Board Meeting agenda on our website. The meeting summaries follow.

CANMORE WARD:

This Ward includes Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Academy.


Faith: Father Nathan’s engagement with the school has been great. Father does Adoration and Mass and is very responsive. The opening Mass was live streamed, with no technical issues.

Learning: FAB LABS (Thursdays 3:30 p.m. - 4:45 p.m.) are “maker spaces” involving hands-on activities with coding, robotics, and 3D printing. The program is run by Mr. Arvisais, and is cutting edge and world class.

Safe and Caring: School Council is supporting teachers in supporting students (e.g. after school clubs and activities). Examples of clubs and activities are the Head Strong Club for both mental and physical health and a Board Game Club

Stewardship: School Council’s fundraising branch has established a budget of $51,971! Online fundraisers have been highly successful.


DRUMHELLER WARD:

This Ward includes St. Anthony's School.


Faith: St. Anthony’s School had an offsite Grade 12 retreat, facilitated by the Director of Catholic Education, Lindsay Fagan. It was highly successful.

Learning: St. Anthony’s teacher teams and departments are focused on improving student learning by using effective classroom discussions, addressing gaps in learning, and focusing on assessment.

Safe and Caring: St. Anthony’s teams have developed superb mental health activities by each team as part of their healthy schools’ strategies, e.g. body breaks, relationship building walkers, and the Champions program.

Stewardship: The council is hosting the GrACE Director, Dr. Bonnie Annicchiarico, to speak about advocacy for Catholic Education.

ÉCOLE GOOD SHEPHERD SCHOOL GYMANSIUM

The Board passed a motion to write to the Minister of Education to request an in-person meeting to appeal the decision to proceed with the construction of the École Good Shepherd School Gymnasium. The Board believes that the structure of the existing facility and its numerous deficiencies have caused the cost of the proposed gymnasium rebuild to balloon to exorbitant costs that are not a responsible use of taxpayer money. Further, there is a concern that building a very expensive gymnasium on site will prompt the necessity to further renovate the remainder of the building, which needs extensive and expensive upgrades. Equally as important, the renovation and construction would be incredibly disruptive to student learning. For years the construction of a new school on a dedicated site in D’Arcy Ranch has been the division’s number one capital priority, and it is the belief of the Board that this will be a far more effective and responsible solution.

CATHOLIC EDUCATION REVIEW

The Board has a cycle of external program reviews each year and this year the focus is the Religious Studies programs. Superintendent Morrison recommended that the review of Religious Studies may be too narrow and that the Board consider expanding it to a review of Catholic Education in CTR Catholic which might be more appropriate. Areas suggested for review include: 1) Religious Studies Programming; 2) Permeation of Faith; 3) Staff Faith Formation; and 4) Advocacy for Catholic Education. The Trustees unanimously accepted the proposed adjustment and authorized Superintendent Morrison to begin composing a list of potential external reviewers for the Board’s consideration.

WE ARE MANY AND WE ARE ONE

Associate Superintendent Moss shared a story of inclusion efforts at St. Joseph’s Collegiate in Brooks that was the topic of professional development at a divisional administrators' meeting. In a school where nearly 76% of all students identify as individuals of colour, there is a need to promote diversity and inclusion while combatting racism. The St. Joseph’s Collegiate administration developed a multipronged approach, including the formation of an inclusion club last year, which developed a mission statement, and promoted antiracism activities and initiatives. This included instruction for staff. The administration also invited alumni involvement, and they gave commentary on their own experiences as former students and gave suggestions on how to incorporate antiracism messages into the curriculum. Teachers also engaged in extensive antiracism training in professional development sessions, and the school established their own Antiracism Day, which included instruction, activities, and a prayer vigil.

BOARD REVIEWS FIRST DRAFT OF 2022/2023 CALENDAR

Chief Deputy Superintendent Behm shared the first draft of the CTR calendar for the 2022/2023 school year. Mr. Behm must work within the constraints of required minimum instructional hours and days, provincial diploma exams dates, statutory holidays, etc. The Board had no objections, and the draft will now be presented to staff, school councils, and ward committees for review and input.

ST. LUKE'S OUTREACH IN BROOKS

The Board approved a budget for the purpose of purchasing and renovating a space for St. Luke’s Outreach Centre in the City of Brooks. To this end the Board authorized Chair Keenan (Foothills County) to request permission to spend capital reserve funds on this project. The Board is moving in this direction to eliminate the annual lease costs of their current facility, and to secure a superior facility in a better location.

RESPONSE TO VACCINE PROCEDURE

Chief Deputy Superintendent Behm reported on the development of CTR’s Vaccination Administrative Procedure for staff. The Board directed administration to develop the procedure based on requests to do so by both the Minister of Education and the Chief Medical Officer of Health. Mr. Behm indicated that the option to indicate proof of vaccination or opt to test was received well by the majority of staff, with only a handful of staff expressing concerns in follow-up dialogue. Chief Deputy Superintendent Behm mentioned that, although the roll out was met with general support from both our staff and the local ATA, he still welcomes opportunities for further clarification on testing and storage of information.

BOARD STRATEGIC PLANNING

A primary intention of the Board Strategic Plan is to schedule community engagement sessions with individuals that trustees identify as Community Influencers or Thought Leaders. The purpose is to promote and advocate for Catholic education. Administration reviewed the plans to date for the benefit of the three new trustees.

BOARD STANDING COMMITTEES

Since the last Board meeting, Trustee representatives attended at the following meetings: Faith Committee, GrACE CTR Committee, Alberta Catholic School Trustees' Association, and Alberta School Boards Association. Their reports follow.

FAITH COMMITTEE

The Faith Committee Meeting reviewed the Director of Catholic Education’s new newsletter called Redeemer Revelations, which focuses on CTRs faith life. They also discussed the Bishop’s luncheon held on September 18th, which was a tremendous success. Although Faith Days is still in the planning phase, keynote speakers have been identified, and there is an intention to have an in-person gathering if health rules permit. Contingency plans are in place if AHS rules prohibit a large gathering.

GrACE CTR COMMITTEE

Trustee MacDonald (High River) shared his experience regarding Catholic education with both the GrACE CTR Committee and the Board. When he was a child attending school in New Brunswick, he attended a Catholic school for eight months before the decision was made to terminate separate schools in the province. He explained that there was no collective voice of objection to resist this move, and Catholic education was lost permanently. This is why he believes GrACE is so important. The GrACE CTR Committee is looking at strategies to expand their focus, including developing a video to show before Mass, designating Masses to enhance participation, developing and delivering school level presentations, recommissioning the staff to the purpose of Catholic education at Mass, and including parish priests in all conversations.

ALBERTA CATHOLIC SCHOOL TRUSTEES' ASSOCIATION (ACSTA)

The highlight of the recent Annual General Meeting on November 13th was the election of Trustee Salm (Strathmore) as President of the ACSTA. Trustees congratulated Mr. Salm, who ran on the campaign platform of promoting unity. There is some turmoil in the ACSTA at present, and Mr. Salm hopes to work with the Board to build bridges. In another major vote, approval of the budget was defeated, and the final resolution was to operate on a temporary budget while redeveloping the proposed budget.

ALBERTA SCHOOL BOARDS ASSOCIATION (ASBA) ZONE 5 REPORT

Chair Keenan (Foothills County) reported that the November 12th meeting was held in Golden Hills and was a hybrid meeting. As it was the first meeting after Board elections, the opening order of business was to elect the executive and identify committee membership.

TRUSTEE'S CORNER

By Andrea Keenan, Chair and Trustee for Foothills County


As Advent approaches, many of us wonder where the year went literally…again. This year was another difficult year for many, as COVID still managed to linger and even be the forefront of daily lives. I’d like to think that this Advent, we can forget about all the negativity for at least the four weeks leading up to Christmas. With Hope, Love, Joy and Peace, I think it’s more than possible. Excuse me while I adjust my rose-colored glasses before going on.


As Catholics, we relish in hope. Without hope we cannot continue on with our daily lives. This Advent, let us be open to the possibilities that await us, not just over the Christmas holidays but into the New Year. Let us be open to God’s will. He will never leave us empty.


Let us open our hearts to love. We can always do acts of charity but let us also truly be generous with our time, our kindness, our patience, and our prayers for others who genuinely need it.


Find joy in the simplest things, and with daily life. How do we face difficulties or challenges in our life? Do you face them with the help of God? Or do we muddle through and “hope” for a good outcome?


Finally, focus on inner peace. Find the time to pray. Find the time to be with Christ. Find peace within Him. Do not let others interfere. “Let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts”- Colossians 3:15.


As we celebrate the upcoming weeks, do not get discouraged with all the noise around you. Celebrate the light amidst the darkness. Celebrate Hope, Love, Joy and Peace with your family and friends. Celebrate the coming of the Christ child.


Trustee biographies can be viewed by clicking the button below.

NEXT BOARD MEETING DATE

The next Board meeting will take place on Saturday, January 29, 2022, at Notre Dame Collegiate, beginning at 9:00 a.m.

For any information on items in this publication, please contact Michael Kilcommons, Associate Superintendent, at mkilcommons@redeemer.ab.ca or at 403-938-2659.

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