Sep 24

Chris Smeaton

In support of common assessments

Last year our Division took a giant leap forward when our own teachers developed common math assessments for grades 1-9. Through grade level meetings supported by our Director of Learning, teachers met and created these assessments. The assessments were given near the end of the school year. During the next couple of weeks, our grade level meetings will be reviewing the results, refining the assessment and engaging in high quality conversation on teacher practice!

I’m extremely proud of our ability to engage our teachers and develop a common assessment with them and not to them. And I’m most grateful for the effort of our teachers and leaders. It speaks well to the culture that continues to develop in our schools and throughout our Division. But what is most important is what is now occurring in these follow up meetings.

  1. Reviewing the results: Whether you want to believe in accountability to the government or assurance to parents, results count! While everything in education can’t be measured, there are things that can and should be measured. Systems, whether in education or business need some data to objectively understand current state and then utilize it to drive forward improvement. One might get some push back with the argument that the assessment didn’t provide any new information. Good… it shouldn’t for great teachers and therefore the assessment should confirm their beliefs. But I’ve also learned that sometimes are own perceptions (call it professional judgment) and our reality may not be as aligned as we want to admit. I’ve learned a great quote from the world of business that I use in these situations; “Trust and verify.”
  2. Refining the assessment: There is no perfect assessment. While some companies may try to sell you the “perfect assessment”, there is none! Assessment creation should be an ongoing process. Did we ask the right question here? Did the students understand what we really wanted to know? What might have been an improved method of questioning? Every assessment should be reviewed to ensure high quality. The beauty of the common assessment is that we are engaging in the review in collaboration and with collective professional judgment. The dialogue challenges are own thoughts and leads to what I believe is the most critical reason for employing common assessments- improving teacher practice.
  3. Teacher practice: Common assessments allows for common language. We now can engage with a common understanding of the same data. This is where (in a trusting environment) we begin to ask each other about our practice. “Your students did well in this area, what were some of the strategies you used.” It is no longer acceptable and highly irregular to go into our classrooms, shut the door and teach in isolation. Teaching is far too complex even for the best of the best! Teachers as professionals are constantly improving their practice and being cocooned in their own classroom is not the most effective way of developing. Gathering around common assessments (especially those that are teacher created) and confronting the brutal facts, the highs and the lows will impact pedagogy in the classrooms.

It has taken years for our school division to get to a point where developing teacher common assessments was accepted and encouraged. I’d be a fool to believe that every one of our teachers is on the same page. But when I step into our grade level meetings and listen to the conversations around pedagogy, I know that we are on the right path. Because in truth, unless individual teachers and then groups of teachers engage in honest dialogue around their own teaching practice with common assessments large scale improvements will never occur. And when you hear that statement and you remember back to why you became a teacher, that is just not acceptable to the kids coming into our classrooms today or tomorrow. Embrace common assessments and challenge your teaching practices…it is just the right thing to do!

Sep 02

Chris Smeaton

Opening Address to Staff

Good morning everyone and welcome back. Before I begin my opening comments, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the entire staff of Ecole St. Mary, Dan, and Lise for organizing our opening mass today, to the administration and staff of CCH for always being so welcoming to us and a big shout out to our music ministry. Thank you to Joann Bartley, our Director of Religious Education for her leadership of this day. And finally, a special thanks to Bishop Henry for leading our Eucharistic Celebration and to all our clergy and religious for attending and sharing in our day.

On Monday, we met as a Learning Leadership Team and I provided my opening presentation that spoke of our three goals and the need to be focused in our work. I’ve provided my presentation to our LLT and they have the ability to share it, all or in part with their own staffs. Like last year’s address, I will focus on our faith component and leave the education comments to our administrators and through my monthly blog posts.

I want to begin with a quote that I read yesterday from Fr. Richard Rohr: “We cannot attain the presence of God because we’re already totally in the presence of God. What’s absent is awareness.” Let me repeat that once more. “We cannot attain the presence of God because we’re already totally in the presence of God. What’s absent is awareness.” Whether we want to call it our job, our work, our vocation, bringing the awareness of the presence of God to our students is what we do. In that one quote, is the essence of our work in Catholic education, in Holy Spirit Catholic Schools. This is why we exist as a separate school division; it is what makes us unique and different. Bringing that awareness requires us to be passionate about our faith understanding that our first priority must be God. Education prepares for future society and society can ill afford to have more people who are apathetic to the presence of God in the world and concerned more about personal success and wealth. Be passionate and committed to the right priority, which is faith.

This year we begin our new 3-Year Faith Plan, GIFT Growing In Faith Together. It was developed in a collaborative environment which involved staff, students, clergy, trustees and community. It builds on our previous faith plans but challenges us even more to find hope in others and recognize it in ourselves.

St. Paul tells us that hope has a name. Hope is Jesus and he renews everything. But we also know that in order to have hope we must have a relationship with Christ. Our relationship with Christ begins with increasing our knowledge of the spiritual and social teachings of Jesus. Our Year 1 theme, Rooted in Christ invites all of us to explore the Gospels to get to know Jesus and bring awareness of the presence of God into our own lives and the lives of our students.

Working in a Catholic education system is a great honor but it also comes with great responsibility. Each day, remind yourself of the honor and responsibility you carry into every interaction with your students, the parents, guardians and caregivers, and each other. Be passionate about your faith in order to bring that awareness to our students. You carry a torch- pass it on to bring a bright light of hope to all.

May God bless you in your work this year and on behalf of myself and all the children you will bring awareness to, I offer sincere thanks. God Bless & Thank You!

Aug 28

Chris Smeaton

Leadership- aligning words with actions

I’m sitting in my office this afternoon getting ready for the week ahead. Tomorrow we have all of our school leaders in and I always start with an opening presentation to our Learning Leadership Team. Later in the week, we will gather as a division and I will address our entire staff. Even though I’m well known in our Division, comfortable in presenting to large groups and speaking in public, there is a certain amount of nervousness that I feel. I embrace that nervous feeling because it reminds me how important my words are in relationship to my actions, that will follow. It is essential that there is alignment between what the leader says and what the leader does.

Credibility is one of the byproducts of that alignment. Kouzes and Posner (2011) noted in their book, Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It, Why People Demand It, “According to our empirical data, the majority of people look for (and) admire leaders who are honest, forward-thinking, inspiring, and competent…While the exact order might vary from country to country, these same four qualities remain at the top of the list of what people everywhere want from their leaders.” (p. 7) Just achieving these four qualities, honesty, forward-thinking, inspiring and competent is a tall task and if you think differently, you are either ignorant or arrogant. Credibility is certainly foundational for leadership success and is enhanced through alignment.

The alignment of words and action also builds a culture of trust. For organizations to achieve greatness, a high level of trust must exist. While there will always be decisions made and actions taken that impact organizational trust, it needs to be one of the leader’s non-negotiable goals. Great organizations exude professional trust which Douglas Reeves (2016) reminds us is a “two-way street.” It manifests itself throughout the organization- bottom up and top down. High levels of trust in an organization allows for vulnerability for all but especially the leader. Leaders cannot come across as all knowing robots without any human touch! Being vulnerable makes leaders real. Leaders will make errors and it is far easier to face the music when the organization knows the leader’s true value from the heart and the head.

Finally, aligning words and actions makes the leader (and all of us) far more accountable. And by the way, accountability is not necessarily a swear word in education or business. Personally as a leader, my stock goes down when I over promise and under deliver, when I say one thing and do another and when I shirk my accountability to those I lead. My accountability standard should be very high because in truth, our staff, students and communities deserve nothing less!

Leadership is a complex task and a very difficult role-if it wasn’t, the world would have an abundance of great leaders. There are so many nuances that non-leaders or poor leaders usually don’t understand or can’t comprehend. The fact is that leadership counts and it should be taken with great seriousness. As I continue my preparation now and into the future, I should always be slightly nervous when I’m addressing staff because the tone at the top will set the either the right or wrong direction. Align your words and actions to set the right direction!

 

Aug 14

Chris Smeaton

Blame, Complain or Find a Solution

The next time you are in a conversation about something that isn’t quite right, ask yourself if you are blaming, complaining or trying to find a solution. While we would like to believe that we operate in the “glass half full” mentality, we may be surprised at how often we exude negativity. Finger pointing in our world is becoming more commonplace. Because (in part) of a lack of personal and system accountability, blaming and complaining flourishes in our world. We’ve adopted a learned helplessness approach to life.

It saddens me knowing that in many ways education and educators have been seduced into this way of thought as well. Rather than rise above and lead society, we too have become comfortable with the “if only” statement. If only we had more money, or time, or better professional development or better students. The list can become endless! While I fully understand there are issues in education, I’m confident that consistently blaming or complaining is not going to make those issues go away.

In trying to find a solution we are forced to move from perceptions to reality. A great example of this comes from a study by Douglas Reeves. In his book, “From Leading to Succeeding” Reeves asked teachers about their perceptions on decision making. The perception was that teacher discretion and collaborative decision making accounted for only 26% of the decision making, the actual was 73%. Almost 50% of teachers were misguided in their perceptions leading I’m sure, to an environment of both blame and complaint. This is not a singular poke at teachers because I believe the results would be similar to school and system leaders. In fact, the difference between perception and reality would be similar throughout many elements in our world.

Unfortunately the blame/complain world impacts our own efficacy. Efficacy is our own belief that we can make and do make a difference. While there will always be things beyond our control, trying to find a solution works with what we can control. It instills personal accountability onto our own self. We all need to be more accountable and as illustrated in the Serenity Prayer.

GrantMeTheSerenity1b

Trying to find a solution requires us to inherit a growth mindset and be change accepting.

“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” Albert Einstein

Education has such great potential to create the world we want to live in but it will always begin with one seeking to find a solution. As you begin this new school year, I would ask that you always try to find a solution, be open to possibilities and look for opportunities. Making excuses, casting blame or simply complaining just solidifies the problem. Change, what the world really needs requires us to begin by each of us being solution focused. We are the change!

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” – Barack Obama

Jun 01

Chris Smeaton

Collaboration amongst divisions

The following article was submitted and published in the Lethbridge Herald on June 1, 2016.

In 2013, the Lethbridge Herald began the practice of allowing local superintendents to provide a weekly message on a rotating basis. That initiative in itself should be recognized as extremely forward thinking. In the beginning, I think most of my colleagues and I believed that this was simply a golden opportunity to showcase our own divisions. There is no doubt that each column provides some local school division recognition, but more often the musings of the superintendents are more global. Even though the Herald has provided each superintendent an excellent PR opportunity, the majority of the columns speak to our overall education system and the changes that will be required to prepare our students as future citizens. What this demonstrates is an overall commitment by the superintendents to work together for all students, not just their own.

Superintendents in this area meet with each other as a group a minimum of four times a year. The sharing of successes and the openness around issues and concerns illustrates the trust that exists in this zone. While we are all hired by boards to improve our own system, we also fully understand that, in the complex world of education, working collaboratively is far more effective. It is not that there isn’t competition between the divisions, but it isn’t cutthroat in nature. Instead the competition is about learning from each other and making sure we offer the best possible educational experience to the students we serve.

Alberta continues to be one of the pre-eminent jurisdictions in the world and parental choice is certainly one of the reasons for that. But an equally important factor is the existence of competition and collaboration between divisions and senior administrators. All of us are teachers first with an innate desire for students to be successful. Most of us recognize that, though we want our own students to experience the best opportunities (remember who pays our salaries), we still believe that all students deserve the same high level of education.

In this ever-changing world and given the complexity of education as a whole, collaboration amongst divisions is less of a choice and more a non-negotiable reality. Students are far too important for our future to hoard strategies that work and programs that succeed. It is a comfort to be able to turn to many of my colleagues in the area and discuss a “how” or “why” in their system and know that I will receive an honest and forthright response. I guess that also speaks to the relationship that many of us have with each other and the admiration we hold.

So, on behalf of my colleagues, I would like to thank the Lethbridge Herald for this great opportunity to not only to highlight our own divisions, but further the important aspect of collaboration that exists between our zone 6 divisions.

May 31

Chris Smeaton

From the Desk of the Superintendent- June 2016

The end of the school year is right around the corner with the last official day for staff and students on June 24th. It is always hard for me to fathom just how quickly a school year passes. I’m sure that is the same feeling, no matter what profession you are in, if you truly enjoy what you do. Enjoyment for me, is not the absence of issues (we all have many stressors) but the belief that I can and will be able to make a difference. On June 14th at the annual Board’s Retirement Evening, this is a message that I will hear from our retirees again and again. Over their careers, they have made a difference in the lives of students, parents and colleagues. I want to congratulate all of our retirees as they begin a new journey and thank them again for their commitment to Holy Spirit and ultimately Catholic Education. Doing what we really do in education and making a difference in the life of a child may not be fully understood or even shown appropriate gratitude by the general public but it is what great educators do, day in and day out!

Although I’m looking at taking some time off in the summer and working on my golf game, I may be a little quirky in already being excited for 2016-17. Each year since becoming superintendent in 2009, I’ve watched our system, our schools and individual teachers and staff, make necessary tweaks in planning and practice to ensure continuous improvement. 2016-17should be another great year of innovation balanced with a concentrated effort to ensure literacy and numeracy, the foundational skills for student success, are focused upon. The development of our Three Year Education Plan (which I’m hoping will be a 3-Year Plan and not a 1-Year Plan done 3 years in a row), is focusing on SMART Goals and strong pieces of evidence to inform our practice. This year during our Continuous Improvement Plan meetings with school administration we focused on the question, “How do you know?” That question alone has shifted our thinking on classroom, school and system practice and forced us (in a positive way) to be more reflective in all that we do.

This past year has been consuming on the capital front. Schematic design for the modernization of St. Patrick’s Taber continues, our modernization at St. Michael’s in Pincher Creek is proceeding well and we’re excited about the opening of Blessed Mother Teresa for the fall. Each project is being designed to enhance the learning environments for the future instead of just making them “new” from the past. This is an important statement since we should always be looking into the future in our designs and recognizing how students will be learning tomorrow. With growth expected to exceed 2% for next year, these capital projects are needed and certainly well appreciated.

On the faith front (which is why we exist), we are completing our three year faith plan and this year’s theme of “Horizon of Hope.” It was a great pleasure witnessing the many examples of our students and staff creating horizons of hope in their classrooms, their schools and their community. The words of Pope Francis will always ring loudly,

Today amid so much darkness, we need to see the light of hope and be men and women that bring hope to others. To protect creation, to protect every man and woman, to look upon them with tenderness and love, is to open up a horizon of hope.

Together, with the Year of Mercy, we have opened our doors and provided hope to refugees, the displaced and disenfranchised and focused our actions on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

So, as we gear up for the last month of school I want to wish our students the best of luck in their final exams and projects and hope they have a wonderful and safe summer. And to our staff and Board of Trustees, I want to extend my gratitude for another positive year. Enjoy a well deserved rest and I’m looking forward to an exciting 2016-17. God Bless!

May 23

Chris Smeaton

What is your legacy?

 

A number of years ago I spoke about creating a legacy. While some may believe this to be egotistical,  there is nothing further from the truth. In education, we should be trying to create a legacy each and every day. True legacies are not about self other than the goal to improve oneself in order to pass on those important life lessons to the students we teach and the people we interact. Legacy is far from ego because it is not what we get but it is about what we give.

Often when I speak to young teachers or those still in training I reiterate the importance of the relationship with their students.  Sadly, they may be the only person in their student’s lives who truly cares for them. They may be their safe haven and only horizon of hope. Their legacy is about what they can give each student to be better, feel safer, rise above and aspire to a better future. The memories of our best teachers always revolves around how they made us feel. As a parent and now a new grandparent, isn’t that we want all of our educators to do and to be?

Jung-quote

It saddens me when the important impact we play as educators on our students is not fully recognized. All professions have poor performers but to lump all educators with a few bad apples is unfair and unwarranted! The vast majority of educators in our systems desire the best for their students. And in order to accomplish this, we must seek to be the best and ultimately create the legacy that students deserve and we desire.

As we come closer to the end of the year, I think it is important to ask ourselves the following questions:

  • What legacy did I create?
  • What will my students, parents, co-workers remember about me?
  • Did I make the life of someone better because of my actions?
  • Did I make a difference?
  • And finally, how do I create my legacy even better next year?

Every year at our retirement banquet I listen to the stories of our retirees and of the legacies that they have created. It is such a positive evening because of the stories. Most often the stories I hear would be best told to our beginning teachers. For not only do we need to pass on our experiences to our students we must to our newer staffs too! They are our future! Legacies can build on each other if allowed and nurtured.

I admire those who retire when they are at the top of their game, love what they do and are still contributing to their legacy. I am grateful for the many retirees who have gone before me and left a legacy that I can build upon. As you conclude this school year, remember to reflect on the legacy you want to create from this point forward.

Legacy

May 15

Chris Smeaton

What have you learned?

I think it is quite sad that our world is so driven by achievement. What did you achieve this year or what award did you receive or simply what did you get, are common questions that surround us. It is not that I’m anti success, quite the opposite. My issue is that achievement seems to be the most frequent and narrowest evaluator of success. Sometimes, especially in the education world, it is the easiest to measure but does it really tell us what is most important.

As we near the conclusion of the school year, I would like to change the conversation slightly. Instead of what did you achieve, I would like to suggest we ask what have you learned? One of my favorite sayings on learning comes from Eric Hofer who writes, “In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.” Relating to my thoughts, achievements come and go but learning is continuous.

To complement the conversation on what have you learned I think you need to add from where and from whom. In education, I think we have a rich resource of who we can learn from daily. So here is my list:

  1. Learn from the world- It is easy to become myopic in education. Our world can quickly become our classroom or our school or our district. We can become so consumed with the busyness of our own lives that we forget to take the time to see what is around and beyond us. The fact is, there is much to learn from “out there.” Thinking outside the box or learning from the world requires us to first take the box off our heads to see what is out there. Our “norm” may not actually be the “norm.” It is extremely difficult to bring a multiple perspective into your classroom, school or district if you only possess a singular perspective. Learning from the world should both be affirming of current practice that is truly making a difference in the lives of students and challenging on practices that are not. While this could likely be a blog post in itself, suffice to say, learning from beyond your borders is a requirement.
  2. Learn from your parents- How often do we state that parents are the primary educators of their children and then don’t listen to them? I know we own pedagogy- it is what distinguishes us as a profession but parents know their kids! Don’t get me wrong, I know we have “snowplow” parents, ones who cover up and make every excuse for their child but that might be the learning lesson in itself. Parents are a valuable resource to our learning when we listen to and communicate with in order to form a strong partnership. Just because they may not have a teaching degree doesn’t mean they can’t contribute to our learning.
  3. Learn from your students- “Out of the mouths of babes!” Some of my greatest lessons have come from daring to listen to my students. Schools may be hierarchical but learning is not. Students have great capacity to teach us many things…if we are open, honest and willing. Often our learning can come from simply observing them- witnessing their innocence, seeing their fears and frustrations and watching for what excites and motivates them. Our students don’t just come as learners, they come as teachers as well.
  4. Learn from your colleagues- A frustration of mine is when educators either shut their door and refuse to collaborate with their colleagues or truly believe that they can’t gain anything from their colleagues. The days of the teacher as independent contractor must come to an end. In every school or district there exists pockets of excellence and  learning from colleagues will assist in scaling up and scaling out. Education is not complicated, it is complex and requires a “we” not “I” approach. Raw conversations on pedagogy, comparison of common assessments and colleague visits need to become the norm not the exception. Learning from colleagues means you share your expertise and your problems. There is always great expertise within a building- tap into it and contribute to it!

Learning cannot be optional in our ever-changing educational world. We must be constantly stretched to improve and get better. The students we face are constantly changing, the world is ever evolving and change is the norm. Given that, our own personal/professional learning must take on a higher level of priority. What have you learned must be always front and center in order to move success from achievement related only.

As you conclude this school year, ask the question, “What have I learned?”

May 02

Chris Smeaton

From the Desk of the Superintendent- May 2016

Good morning from Kananaskis where I’m joining my fellow Catholic Superintendents for a couple of days of meetings before Blueprints. Blueprints follows SPICE and from all indications, the SPICE conference which finished up on Sunday was a huge success. Congratulations again to our Excellence in Catholic Education Award winner Chris Hartman who was recognized here on Friday evening. We are fortunate in the province of Alberta to have both of these conferences and I would encourage all staff to attend during their careers. They are extremely powerful conferences and provide tremendous spiritual growth for all participants.

May has arrived which means we have less than 40 days to prepare for the end of the school year. It will be a busy stretch as we continue to work on staffing, develop plans to address our priorities for 2016-17 and of course finalize our budget. While the provincial budget didn’t provide any additional grant funding, the government recognized the importance of funding growth. In our current economic times, that commitment was welcomed news as our school division continues to grow and expand. We are looking at another enrolment increase for next year of between 2.0-2.5% or 100 + students. Since 2013-14 we have grown by just under 320 students and have hired an additional 18.28 FTE teachers. Put another way, we’ve hired a new teacher for every 17.36 students since that time. I know that since my time with the Board, our trustees have always committed to spending today’s dollars on today’s students and not placing it into the war chest of reserves.

This week we celebrate Education Week. Our division doesn’t really highlight this because there is such a strong belief that every week is Education Week. I’m confident in saying that for a couple of reasons. One is through my school visits. Whether I’m working in a classroom, observing practice or simply engaging with staff in their meetings, my beliefs are reaffirmed about the strengths within Holy Spirit. Secondly, is the recognition we receive from outside our walls. Case in point, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is sending a researcher to our Division to look at our practices around aboriginal learning. We have also been invited to be part of a research study for this same reason. I think sometimes we are simply too humble to really highlight these accolades or… we are just not content with the status quo and therefore are continually looking at ways to continuously improve. Looking beyond our own division  and accessing professional development through accessing division/school or personal funds has also caused us to see other possibilities. Both personal and systemic growth requires a balance between reflection inward and reviewing outward.

May signals the start of our high school graduations, our feather blessing and sash ceremony, our Pow Wows and our long service awards. Each of these events are strong reminders of who we are and what we do. There is always room to improve and I will never be one who doesn’t stop pushing and learning. But at the same time, it is important to recognize and celebrate the many positive qualities that exist within Holy Spirit. Stealing a line from CCH principal Carol Koran and slightly modifying it I end with the following statement,  “What we do in Holy Spirit is good!” 

Enjoy the month of May and God Bless!

 

Apr 20

Chris Smeaton

School fees and the basics

The following article was published in the Lethbridge Herald on April 20, 2016.

Holy Spirit Catholic Schools has just set their strategic priorities for the next three year and it should come as no surprise that literacy and numeracy are front and centre. The statistics are overwhelming that children who do not read by the end of grade 3 are unlikely to complete high school. That fact in itself should be enough of a driver for all school systems to focus on literacy and numeracy. This may also be one of the reasons for the “back to the basics” movement that often dominates the press. I will not ever divert from my strong belief in developing those foundational skills in our learners. Strong literacy and numeracy skills are non-negotiable and are very much prerequisites for future competencies that students will require to be successful in their ever evolving world.

While these skills are essential, I would consider them the minimum standard for education. They are ground floor practices, meaning they should be seen in every classroom. What parents and students have come to expect, however, are ceiling level practices. Basics are just not enough. In a world filled with gaming technology, instant messaging, and global connections, engaging students is a must. They are coming into classrooms questioning why certain outcomes need to be learned and expecting an answer better than, “because it is in the curriculum.” They want their learning to be connected to their own life, not without rigour but certainly with relevance. To achieve this, teachers need to go beyond the basics.

Like many of my colleagues in the role of superintendent, I have pleasure of visiting schools and getting into classrooms. I’m always amazed at the high level of instruction occurring in our classrooms and the innovative practices that our teachers are engaging in. What I see in our schools is far from “basic,” but providing that rich learning experience also comes with a cost. School divisions and individual schools wrestle to lower fees for parents in these tough economic times without losing the engaging aspects we now call the norm. Systems also struggle with equity. The opportunities of an engaging education must be afforded to all and not just some.

When reviewing the charging of school fees the proposed definition of basic educational services is, “The services, supports and materials required for a student to meet the core curricular outcomes at a basic level as defined in the Guide to Education (Math, Science, Language Arts, Social Studies, Religion, Physical Education, Health, Art, Music).” The proposed definition of enhanced educational services is, “Services and materials that are not required to meet the core curricular outcomes at a basic level as defined in the Guide to Education but that are provided to enhance the student’s learning opportunities.” What I struggle with is the murky line that divides “basic” from “enhanced” and the question of our ability to offer the richness of educational experiences currently in our schools if held to these strict definitions.

Holy Spirit has eliminated the instructional resources fees parents pay for the 2016-17 school year. No longer will parents pay $45 for elementary students, $55 for junior high students and $65 for high school students. While that might not seem like much, it is a loss in revenue to the schools of almost $170,000. School and system leaders are also reviewing all fees collected by schools and trying to characterize them as either “basic” or “enhanced.” It is not an easy or cut and dry decision. The desire to lessen the financial burden for parents is certainly the will of the Board, but so is providing an all-encompassing, highly engaging learning environment. Striking that balance will be the ultimate goal.

 

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