CTR CATHOLIC BOARD HIGHLIGHTS
from Board Meeting held on March 26, 2022
The Board passed a motion to allow schools to begin tentative planning for international travel in 2022-2023. Typically, these trips are conducted over the Easter break each year, focusing on history, culture, faith, and sometimes service. From previous experience the Board has determined that EF Tours is the preferred provider because it is large enough to be nimble and responsive to world events. The Board was also reassured by the fact that CTR’s insurance consortium, ARMIC, provides comprehensive travel coverage for a nominal price.
OKOTOKS ATTENDANCE AREAS
Five years ago, École Good Shepherd School in Okotoks was operating at well over 100% capacity and CTR began the operation of St. Francis of Assisi Academy. To balance enrollment, CTR created strict attendance areas for École Good Shepherd School, St. Mary’s School, St. Francis of Assisi Academy, and St. John Paul II Collegiate. These efforts were successful and CTR now has balanced enrollment between all four schools. As a result, the Board chose to relax attendance areas to allow parents more choice to have their children attend out-of-area schools. The application to attend an out-of-area school can be found online. Principals will have to ensure that space and programming are available, but CTR’s hope is to accommodate most requests. CTR’s transportation department will also attempt to provide ridership on our school buses to the requested out-of-area schools if the route can be managed.
THREE YEAR CAPITAL PLAN AND INFRASTRUCTURE, MAINTENANCE AND RENEWAL UPDATE
The Board reaffirmed its priority list regarding requests for new school construction. The number one priority remains a new school in Okotoks (D’Arcy Ranch). The second, third and fourth priorities are an addition to Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Academy in Canmore, a new school in High River, and a permanent addition on St. Joseph’s Collegiate in Brooks. New school announcements are next expected in 2023.
ÉCOLE GOOD SHEPHERD SCHOOL GYMNASIUM
Superintendent Morrison reached out to the Deputy Minister’s office to discuss CTR’s concerns with École Good Shepherd School. CTR strongly believes the gymnasium addition should be canceled and that a new school should be built to replace École Good Shepherd School given the scope of remediation required. The Deputy Minister toured the school and listened to CTR’s concerns. A follow-up meeting will be scheduled at the Deputy Minister’s request.
SECOND QUARTER BUDGET REPORT
The Board received a summary of CTR's second quarter revenue and expenses. Administration advised the Board that CTR has a positive variance and predicts that the division will finish the year in a better position than originally budgeted.
ALBERTA SCHOOL COUNCILS ASSOCIATION ADVOCACY RESOLUTIONS
The Alberta School Councils Association will soon host their Spring Annual General Meeting, and in advance they sent their proposed resolutions to school divisions. The resolutions ranged from requests from the province for funding, to considerations regarding diploma exams and calls for improved bus safety. The Board discussed each resolution and passed a motion regarding recommendations to pass on to CTR’s school councils.
LOCALLY DEVELOPED COURSES
The Board passed motions to approve the use of the following locally developed courses in CTR’s high schools: Astronomy, Intercultural Studies, Calculus Advanced, Mathematical Analysis and Approaches, and Literature and Composition. These courses were developed by other school divisions and approved for use by Alberta Education. Trustee MacDonald (High River) commented that these courses are particularly valued in CTR’s online school.
BOARD APPROVAL OF ASSUMPTION AND CFL CALENDARS
The Board passed a motion approving the calendar for Assumption Roman Catholic School in Oyen, which was subject to consultation with Prairie Rose School Division, with whom bussing is shared. In addition, the Board passed a motion to approve the Centre For Learning@Home’s calendar which is different than the calendar for CTR’s traditional schools. Next year’s calendars for all CTR schools can be viewed below
BROOKS WARD COMMITTEE HIGHLIGHT
Christ The King Academy’s Culture Club was featured at the last Brooks Ward meeting. The purpose of the club is to help newcomer students connect with other peers and see themselves as belonging to the school community. Staff purposefully invite all newly arrived ELL students, and any interested students, so that the club is inclusive to everyone. Among other things, students in the club share their stories about coming to Canada and also act as experts, sharing different elements of their cultures (e.g. food and art). Sometimes this is because students are from the culture in question and other times it is because they have researched a culture of interest. They have also viewed YouTube videos and listened to PowerPoint presentations. There are generally 25 or more students in the club which features discussion, interaction, and laughter. As with any initiative, CTR’s Many and One focus does not rely on one strategy. Combatting racism requires multiple approaches, including everything from guest speakers like Aubrey Noronha, to poster campaigns, and student groups. Trustees appreciated the Culture Club approach Christ The King is taking, especially the practice of sharing stories about culture and/or coming to Canada. We all love our families because we know their stories. What better way to promote inclusion and solidarity than getting to know one another.
OKOTOKS II WARD COMMITTEE HIGHLIGHT
Okotoks Ward II includes St. Luke’s Outreach School (SLO), and the Principal Leslie Woehleke shared her sincere appreciation for the charity and love shown to her school by families and community members. Recognizing that some students at SLO have faced adversity and challenge, parents and community members are often very free with gifts of food, clothing, tickets to events, and gift cards. The school and its students and staff are grateful for the generosity.
STRATHMORE WARD COMMITTEE HIGHLIGHT
The School Council Chair of Sacred Heart Academy indicated they will be sending a letter of appreciation to all families, thanking them for their patience and superb support during the pandemic. Further, parents will be encouraged to write their own letter to staff members, thanking them for their effort and dedication during the last two years.
HIGH RIVER WARD COMMITTEE HIGHLIGHT
Once again, the construction class at Notre Dame Collegiate is making five-foot-tall crosses for Stations of the Cross, which will be planted in the back yard. Classes will have the opportunity to participate in a traditional Stations of the Cross Liturgy in this outdoor setting. The crosses create a stark reminder of sacrifice and create an indelible impression on everyone who sees them.
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT FOR CTR’S EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANTS
CTR’s Educational Assistants are the second largest staff group and typically have direct and regular contact with students. Next year there are hours of PD allocated to this valuable group, and Vincent Behm (Deputy Superintendent) is resolved that a good portion of this professional development will be in person. This is partly because of the opportunity arising after two years of restrictions, but is mainly in response to a survey of CTR’s Educational Assistants who expressed this desire.
Mariette Moss (Associate Superintendent) shared that the superintendents are wrapping up Superchats as the end of the school year nears. These meetings are consultations between the four superintendents and the staff of each school. The themes coming out of this round of Superchats include appreciation for increased flexibility during Faith Day, and insights about how invigorating it is to resume clubs and other extra-curricular activities. The Board recognized that the resumption of these activities requires staff facilitation and expressed their sincere appreciation to all staff that are responsible for extra-curricular programming.
NEW CURRICULUM IMPLEMENTATION
Three new curriculums are being implemented next year, including K-3 English Language Arts and Literature (ELAL), K-3 Mathematics, and K-6 Physical Education and Wellness (PEW). Associate Superintendent Moss reviewed the work CTR’s teachers did on the mathematics curriculum last summer, and indicated that teachers will be invited to participate in the same process for ELAL and PEW this summer. Additional professional development for all teachers is also scheduled.
CATHOLIC EDUCATION PROGRAM REVIEW UPDATE
The program review that was previously approved by the Board to monitor the Catholic Education Program has been delayed until 2022/2023. The reason for this is that Bishop McGrattan requested that CTR invite Catholic educational leaders from across the province to develop an assessment tool for the purposes of this review. It is the Bishop’s hope that this CTR-led pilot project might produce a resource for use in assessing the Catholicity of Catholic schools across the province. To date, six sister school divisions have committed to working with CTR on this initiative.
Modular classrooms that were approved last year for Notre Dame Collegiate and St. Francis of Assisi are nearing the date for placement. At the recent Board meeting, the Trustees approved the budget and plan to place them in the next couple months.
Alberta Education recently completed an audit of a sampling of school division transportation departments. CTR was one of those chosen, and the Board heard that audit results for CTR were extremely favourable. Of note was the work of Vanessa Douville (Transportation Coordinator), who designs and manages 91 bus routes each year. The review concluded that CTR’s transportation system is efficient, safe, and within budget. Early in the new school year, the transportation audit committee will offer recommendations to Alberta Education regarding potential means to improve school transportation across the province.
At the last Liaison Committee meeting, teacher representatives thanked the Board for two shorter Fridays and a shortened Faith Day session that were approved in anticipation of the extra teacher workload related to the Omicron wave. The committee also discussed a host of issues related to new curriculum implementation, with a clear focus on creating readiness in the most expedient way possible. The other area of focus was the calendar and the divisional priorities for 2022/2023, which will remain largely unchanged. The committee committed to developing a statement about the origin and effective implementation of CLC time on Friday afternoons.
GRATEFUL ADVOCATES FOR CATHOLIC EDUCATION (GRACE) COMMITTEE
Trustee MacDonald (High River) advised that GrACE CTR Committee‘s plans are underway for Catholic Education Week upcoming in May. Also in planning stages are an August commissioning of staff during a community Mass and a blessing of staff at local Masses. Recently, the GrACE committee presented at École Good Shepherd’s School Council meeting, and will do so again in upcoming weeks at Notre Dame Collegiate in High River and Holy Cross Collegiate in Strathmore. The committee plans to visit all communities by this coming fall.
Board Chair Andrea Keenan (Foothills County) shared that recent Faith Day survey results were inspiring with 99% of participants expressing satisfaction. Survey respondents said they overwhelmingly liked the choice of speakers, but there was a significant call for in-person Faith Days to return next year. During Faith Day, CTR’s teachers donated what we needed to reach our $6000 goal to sponsor a Feed The Hungry meal at St. Mary’s Cathedral. Currently, schools are all very focused on in-person Lenten liturgies, celebrations, and Masses.
BOARD POLICY DEVELOPMENT AND REVIEW COMMITTEE
The Board Policy Development and Review Committee considered and proposed updates to five Board policies. The Board approved those updates and the revised Board policies can be viewed online as follows: Board Policy #23, Compensation and Benefits for Non-teaching Staff; Board Policy #24, Field Trips; Board Policy #25, School Councils; Board Policy #26, Graduation Requirements; Board Policy #27, School Calendars.
On March 16, the Awards Committee deliberated over nominations for the Saint Joseph’s Parent of Distinction Awards as reported by Trustee Rude-Volk (Oyen). This year’s Parents of Distinction are Julie Trotter from Holy Trinity Academy, Andrea Thornton from Assumption School, Dallas Wagner from Holy Family Academy, Heather Baldwin from Notre Dame Collegiate, and Kathy Resch from Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Academy. These parents will be recognized at the Council of Councils meeting on May 18th.
ACSTA – ALBERTA CATHOLIC SCHOOLS TRUSTEE’S ASSOCIATION
Trustee Chung (Drumheller) advised that at the upcoming ACSTA special meeting there will be an amended resolution proposing a new budget, which is recommended by the finance committee. Two other key takeaways that will be promoted at that meeting are the hiring committee’s recommendation for a new Executive Director and the six strategic initiatives that the executive is working on.
ASBA – ALBERTA SCHOOL BOARDS ASSOCIATION
Vice Chair Salm (Strathmore) reported that the ASBA meeting of March 4th included a provincial report indicating that there are significant supply issues for modular classrooms that were announced last year and intended for placement early in the current school year. The provincial representative also shared that pandemic concerns are now mostly focused on immunocompromised students. The province will be reviewing four-year education plans and just announced 15 school builds or major renovations. The Spring AGM for ASBA will be held on June 6 and 7 in Red Deer.
TEBA – TEACHERS' EMPLOYER BARGAINING ASSOCIATION
Central Table negotiations continue between the province and the Alberta Teachers’ Association. It was reported that they have settled some nonmonetary issues and continue to clear up requests before applying for mediation. Talks will resume in April, and they are hopeful to resolve this school year, but it is unlikely that school divisions will be ready for local bargaining prior to this fall.
By Andrew Gustafson, Okotoks
It was an incredible privilege to be elected as a Trustee for CTR Catholic Schools in October this past fall. Since that time I’ve been abundantly blessed by the many new friends and colleagues I’ve had the joy of working with. The mentorship from the returning Trustees, guidance and clarity afforded me by the Superintendents, and on-ramping and process orientations by support staff have enabled me to build background and learn processes to be effective in this role. Details about schools and inclusion in discussions from school principals and many teachers, and the very thoughtful welcomes from School Councils have warmed my heart and allowed me to integrate quickly. I feel that this is an important role. I can’t effectively perform in my role without a connection to each of those mentioned, so I offer my heartfelt thanks to each for your part in making my last five months so very wonderful.
Incorporating a Catholic worldview into my decision making has always been at the heart of my life. Having this worldview shared by everyone in a workplace is a reality that I have never before experienced. That every meeting and event that I attend as a Trustee begins and ends with prayer and reflection allows each discussion to transpire through the lens of faith, love, inclusion, and respect. To have such a strong foundation for every interaction is powerful to a greater degree than I could have imagined. I’m inspired by the faith of those around me and honestly a little jealous that I haven’t experienced this in my prior work places, unlike those who have spent their entire careers with CTR.
It remains my privilege to serve. Thank you to everyone with CTR for making my experience so fruitful, and for the work you do each and every day to provide such an amazing educational experience for my kids.
NEXT BOARD MEETING DATE
The next Board meeting will take place on Wednesday, April 27, 2022, at 9:00 a.m., at the Catholic Education Centre, #301 - 23 Riverside Drive, Okotoks, AB
Board of Trustees