CTR CATHOLIC BOARD HIGHLIGHTS

from Board Meeting held on May 26, 2022

BUDGET 2022-2023

Upon the recommendation of the Audit Committee, the Board passed CTR’s 2022-2023 budget. The budget is guided by its Four-year Education Plan and adheres to one of CTR’s pillars, which is being good stewards of our resources. The budget continues to place an emphasis on maintaining low class sizes to optimize both learning and wellness. CTR’s operating budget for the 2022-2023 fiscal year totals approximately $104 million. The projected overall deficit position for the upcoming school year equates to $982,023, which is less than one percent of our operating budget. Moreover, due to non-cash expenses in the budget, CTR will not be required to draw on any of our operating reserves. A detailed budget report for 2022-2023 can be found here.

EVALUATING THE QUALITY OF CATHOLIC EDUCATION

Jennifer Woo, the facilitator hired for CTR’s Catholic Education Program Review, recently brought together representatives from 10 Catholic school divisions. The group worked together to create an assessment tool that could be used by all Alberta Catholic school divisions in evaluating their Catholic Education Programs. It is anticipated that the tool should be complete by the end of June.

INTERNATIONAL TRIPS

The Trustees approved two International Trips to be conducted in the Spring of 2023, provided that the destinations continue to be regarded as stable and safe. The first trip approved in principle is a multi-school band excursion to Disneyland in Florida that includes Our Lady of the Snows (Canmore), Notre Dame Collegiate (High River), and Saint Joseph’s Collegiate (Brooks). Trip organizers from the three schools are now authorized to begin formal planning. The second trip was given final approval, and it was Holy Cross Collegiate’s (Strathmore) trip to France, Italy, and Spain.

LOCALLY DEVELOPED COURSES

The Board reauthorized the use of the Learning Strategies course. The course was initially designed by Calgary Catholic and authorized by Alberta Education. Learning Strategies is a special education course designed to provide additional skills to students enrolled regular programming. The Board reauthorized the use of this course from September 1, 2022 to August 31, 2026.

ASSUMPTION WARD

The Administration and School Council in Oyen are fully embracing the opportunity for the community to re-enter the school. In a parent engagement, the participants shared that parents love getting back into the facility. There has been a diverse group of activities set up to activate interaction, including two of their larger endeavours: a golf tournament and a monthly Grandparents’ Day.

STRATHMORE WARD

Last year, when many graduation rituals were compromised by Covid, the staff and students at Holy Cross Collegiate organized a graduate parade through both Holy Cross and Sacred Heart Academy (the elementary school). The elementary students, in particular, loved seeing the graduates in their formal attire. This year, the parade through the schools will return with a new twist. Each homeroom at Sacred Heart Academy has adopted a graduate or two. They wrote their graduates prayer cards and are praying for them regularly. The Board not only identified this as a heartwarming practice, but also encouraged CTR’s other high schools to do the same. It is believed the practice originated in Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Academy (Canmore).

DRUMHELLER WARD

Last year six elementary teachers from Saint Anthony’s School elected to pilot the new math curriculum. The K-3 math curriculum is scheduled for full implementation next year, and the staff is well-positioned to respond.

CANMORE WARD

The Board members were impressed by the enduring successes of the School Council at Our Lady of the Snows (Canmore). This Council hosts countless annual activities and commits to a busy calendar of events. Their fundraising initiatives are well-planned and extremely profitable. Moreover, the funds are intelligently distributed to teachers making application. Their parent classroom representatives are outstanding and fundraising and social events regularly enjoy large turnouts. The Our Lady of the Snows School Council has shared valuable information with other school councils and is regarded as one of the most efficacious councils in CTR.

ÉCOLE GOOD SHEPHERD SCHOOL (ÉGSS) GYMNASIUM

Superintendent Morrison has secured a meeting in June with the Deputy Minister of Education to discuss the status of ÉGSS. The topic has been a point of significant concern for CTR, as the province has proposed to rebuild the gymnasium and then have the remainder of the school undergo successive years of massive reconstruction. The Board is hopeful that an alternate plan to replace the existing school with a facility in D’Arcy Ranch will be accepted as it is less disruptive and no more expensive. Dr. Morrison will also advocate for Ministerial approval to purchase an outreach facility in Brooks, and to use unallocated CTR funds to build a music room for Holy Cross Collegiate (Strathmore).

COUNCIL OF SCHOOL COUNCILS INFLUENCERS ENGAGEMENT

Recently, the Board initiated an engagement with members of our school councils to discuss CTR’s reputation, areas for improvement, and advocacy. The parent group was honest and sincere, providing both praise and constructive criticism. The Board commissioned administration to summarize what was heard, share it with the participants, and determine what actions we might take to address the recommendations. Trustees found the engagement highly valuable and are committed to replicating the engagement with another audience next year.

ST. MARY'S PRE-KINDERGARTEN AND BEFORE AND AFTER SCHOOL CARE POPULAR

The Board learned that CTR’s plan to offer both pre-kindergarten programming and before and after school care at St. Mary’s School in Okotoks is moving forward. Holy Spirit in High River may also offer before and after school care. Both programs are pilot projects that could be expanded to other schools and communities if successful. There are already 22 students enrolled in St. Mary’s pre-kindergarten and 42 students have inquired or are registered in their before and after school care program. Aside from the obvious advantage of relatively inexpensive childcare, these two programs will provide students an environment that will promote socialization, academic growth, and safety.

EMPLOYEE RECOGNITION

CTR believes it is crucial to celebrate the successes of our staff members. This can lead to greater job satisfaction and an enhanced state of personal wellbeing. One example of a host of initiatives the division employs to show appreciation is the formal award evenings. On June 2nd dozens of staff members were recognized with awards in the categories of Excellence in Teaching, Above and Beyond, and Power of One. Of special note this year is that one of the nominees of the Above and Beyond award is a substitute teacher rather than a member of the regular staff. This is a first for CTR. It was the will of the Board to recognize the contributions of all CTR’s substitute teachers, especially in the past two years over the course of the pandemic.

NEW CURRICULUM UPDATE

Trustees heard that 34 CTR teachers have committed to developing Curriculum Support Documents (CSDs) for English Language Arts and Literature and Physical Education and Wellness curriculums which are scheduled for implementation in September 2022. These elementary educators will be compensated for dedicating up to 10 days of their summer break to develop these CSDs in teams. The CSDs will then be shared with all teachers to ensure a successful implementation next year. CTR is able to compensate teachers for this summer work using provincial funding dedicated to new curriculum implementation.

BOARD LEARNS THE CITY OF CALGARY TO ANNEX MORE LAND

Recent correspondence received from the Mayor of Calgary indicated an intention to petition the province to have the City of Calgary annex land that is currently part of Foothills County. Students in this territory are currently educated by both CTR and Foothills School Division (FSD). The Board perceives this as a future threat to CTR’s autonomy. It is also a threat to families who choose to educate their children in CTR’s schools. Another recent annexation request by the City of Calgary was successful, and subsequently the Calgary Board of Education and the Calgary Catholic School District were granted a corresponding expansion of their territory by the Minister of Education. As a result, both CTR and FSD lost territory. The will of the Board was to cooperate with FSD to petition for change so CTR and FSD families currently in the County of Foothills can remain our students, regardless of whether the City of Calgary expands.

GRATEFUL ADVOCATES FOR CATHOLIC EDUCATION (GrACE)

A theme for GrACE provincial remains to Ignite, Engage, Educate and Communicate when considering goals for our schools. An initiative they are presenting as an option for this upcoming school year is to have local priests offer a blessing and commissioning for staff at a Mass in September. The will of the Board was to strongly support this suggestion from the GrACE committee.

BOARD POLICY DEVELOPMENT AND REVIEW

The Board Policy Committee’s purpose is to review existing Board Policies to ensure they are current and applicable. Trustee Gustafson (Okotoks) indicated that Board Policy 29 – Central Office Department and School Program Reviews was updated to identify the schedule moving forward. This policy indicates the year in which a given program will be reviewed. The committee also recommended that three other Board Policies are operational in nature, and should, therefore, be converted to Administrative Procedures. On this basis, the Board voted to repeal the following policies and convert them to administrative procedures: Policy 30 – Whistleblower; Policy 31 – Home Education, Online Learning Program, and Shared Responsibility Program; and Policy 32 – Outreach Schools. These policies will continue to guide operations during the transition to converting them to administrative procedures.

ALBERTA CATHOLIC SCHOOLS TRUSTEES' ASSOCIATION (ACSTA)

Trustee Chung (Drumheller) shared three takeaways from the recent ACSTA meeting. The first was that the ACSTA Executive continues to work to have Edmonton Catholic rejoin the organization. The second was that the ACSTA Executive is working on a revised landing page to their website. The third was that they had discussed the nature and purpose of director reports, noting they should focus on advocacy initiatives and other special projects.

ALBERTA SCHOOL BOARDS ASSOCIATION (ASBA)

Trustee MacDonald (High River) reported that ASBA representatives heard from the province that students from Ukraine will be tracked and supported. Additionally, the province will provide funding of $191M to support curriculum implementation. ASBA is requesting some flexibility around implementation. CTR will have trustee and senior administrator representatives attending the ASBA Spring General Meeting occurring on June 6 and 7. The SGM will include an address from the Alberta Minister of Education and a budget presentation.

TEACHERS' EMPLOYER BARGAINING ASSOCIATION (TEBA)

Recently, representatives from the Alberta Teachers’ Association, the provincial government, and the Alberta School Boards Association brought Central Table Negotiations to a potential close. Mediation has occurred, and if the deal is ratified, there will be a wage increase for teaching staff. Historically, CTR has matched any compensation awarded to teachers with the same increase to all other staff. Despite the fact that the province has never provided additional funding for support staff increases, the Board unanimously supported senior administration’s intention to provide a matching wage increase for support staff if the teachers’ offer is ratified on June 10th.

TRUSTEE'S CORNER

By Mark MacDonald (High River)

We measure our lives in many ways…important celebrations, birthdays, Christmas, Easter, Sacraments, etc. Each moment has a specific beginning and ending, and it is in June that students, families, and staff bring to an end another school year with great anticipation. The thoughts of summer holidays, travel perhaps, spending more time with family and friends, and taking more time to do special things we want to experience brings excitement. In all this anticipation, joy, and excitement is God. The Bible provides a wonderful and simplistic manner to guide our understanding of these natural changes and not to fear them. For everything “there is a season” and we can always look forward with joy the changes that mark our growth each year. So students, absorb this special time…the closing of a chapter and the opening of new pages, yet to be written, on your journey. Take time to celebrate and honour what you have accomplished and cherished this school year and what wonderful things are yet to come. Again, in all of this, even in the challenging times, is God.


June is also a time for thankfulness and gratitude, and I want to express my deepest appreciation to the work all students have done this school year to better themselves as learners and children of God and to all families and faculty for their unending and unwavering commitment to fostering academic and spiritual growth in students of all ages. Your work is truly transformative and everlasting.


To the Graduates of 2022, a wish and blessing for a joyful journey ahead and that you experience God’s graces in all that you do.


I extend to our Christ The Redeemer students, families and staff a joyful end to their school year and a restful summer holiday.


Blessings and peace,

Mark MacDonald

Trustee, High River Ward

NEXT BOARD MEETING DATE

The next Board meeting will take place on June 30, 2022, at 9:00 a.m., at the Catholic Education Centre, #301 - 23 Riverside Drive, Okotoks, AB

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

Big picture