Grandparents and early learning

Last week, I was able to spend a day with our two grandchildren, Carter, a little over 2 1/2 years old and his sister Emerson who is now 3 1/2 months old. While I played with our own two children when they were that age, my body of knowledge (even as a teacher at the time) of early learning was limited. Being high school trained, early learning was never part of my education. You might say, that I was even a little uppity (as most high school teachers were at  that time) to “those teachers” who taught kindergarten or even elementary grades.

I’ve always been very comfortable around young ones. In other words babies don’t scare me. People that I work with know my baby rule, which states, “When babies come to central office, my office is their first stop.” But being comfortable around young ones is not enough when it comes to the importance of early learning. I’ve only become better informed since our Division started working with the likes of Dr. Robbin Gibb from the University of Lethbridge and the Palix Foundation. Their work with the Alberta Family Wellness Initiative has provided some of the best resources for parents, grandparents and dare I say community leaders throughout. How Brains are Built: The Core Story of Brain Development is a must introductory watch for all.

But now let’s get back to grandparents and early learning. One thing for sure, I certainly have more dedicated time to spend with our grandchildren than I did as a parent with our own children. And, for some reason, I have more patience and don’t get nearly as stressed out about non-perfect behaviour. Two-year olds are going to be two-year olds because that is part of how they develop. They don’t wake up every morning and think, “How am I going to annoy mommy, daddy, caregiver today?” I know that is hard for parents to understand when it is their child who is screaming at the top of his/her lungs wanting that toy, etc. And worse, are the looks from those who believe that their own children never behaved that way or the insinuation that if the parents were only more strict those tantrums wouldn’t occur! Yeah right!!! Shame on any of you who judge parents in those situations!

As a grandparent I can simply be more present. I get to play and teach at the same time with far greater patience with not an expectation of rules but rather fun, laughter and learning. When I play with Play-Doh with my grandson, I get to ask, “How many planes did we make and let’s count them” or “What color is that car?” or “What sound does the train make?” When I hold my granddaughter in my lap, I gaze into her eyes and ask her to tell me a story or play peek-a-boo or just cuddle her so she knows that she is safe. And it goes without saying that story time is a must!

I know that our society has put such burdens on parents these days that just being present to their children in natural play is very difficult. While I hope that desire of parents to be present to their children and to be their child’s first educators is never ignored or omitted, grandparents have a great ability to impact early learning by getting involved and supporting the toughest and most important job of parenting. It is a great gift and I can’t wait for the next time to interact with our two grandchildren.

 

Leading and Learning

Leaders do! They lead by doing! Take a look at their work plans and it is evident that they work diligently in leading their organizations. For many years now, I’ve met with our school and system leaders to review their professional growth plans. Invariably, I get a great plan from them, carefully outlining the work they would be pursuing in the coming year to improve their school or department. It took a fair amount of effort for me to refocus their plans from what they were going to do or lead to what they were going to learn.  That effort has not been lost on me as I try to communicate a growth plan rather than a work plan to my own Board of Trustees.

I often believe that we get so busy leading that we forget to learn. We work so hard at implementing ideas, building collaborative environments and searching for innovative practices that we forget the importance of learning ourselves. It is not because we have become satisfied with being learned, it is that we are typically too damn busy leading! But wait, aren’t we constantly asking our staffs to be learners and if that is our request, then shouldn’t we be role models of learning?

This visual came across my Twitter feed this morning and speaks exactly to what I mean. Leaders, the very best leaders need to be learners at all times and in all occasions. Simply “doing” is not good enough and even more frightening is an ego based belief that we don’t need to know anything more. No matter your talent, you will hit a plateau (and sometimes a pretty low plateau) if you are not constantly learning to be a better leader.

“In times of change, learners inherit the earth while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” – Eric Hoffer

 

Leadership practice has changed considerably over the last number decades. The days of intimidation, threats and unilateral decision making “should be” almost extinct, even if a certain president continues that practice. Just as coaches have a different athlete today, leaders have different employees who will not or should not follow simply because they’ve been told. What we may have done years ago (learned) may not be overly successful in our current environments. The result is that leaders must strike the balance in the work they do (leading) and their own personal growth (learning).

This year, we’ve been able to utilize a Practice Profile based on competencies for both our school and system leaders. A set of indicators has been provided and individual leaders are also able to add indicators based on their own practice. An indicator in our standards document is defined as, “actions that are likely to lead to the achievement of a competency and which, together with the competency, are measurable and observable.” (Alberta Education Leadership Quality Standard) From there, they are able to be reflective on their own evidence in practice leading to potential areas of growth that are generally self selected.

Leading and learning are intertwined for leaders and without equal focus on both, neither will be exceptional. Excellent organizations require excellent leaders and excellent leaders need to be committed learners.

 

Eliminating Excuses- Pre-Mortem Activity

Let’s be honest, we all make excuses. It is really difficult to accept our own failures and much easier to lay blame on something or someone else. This is especially prevalent in team environments. In her book, Teach Your Team to Fish, Laurie Beth Jones states, “Fewer than 15% of team blockages are caused by external factors- or ‘them.’ Yet these are the variables that consumes 90% of the team’s vital thought time.”

We want to believe that the problem is out there and it is someone else’s job to solve it. Left unbridled, we fall into the trap of employing “if only” strategies or simply making excuses. Don’t get me wrong, there are valid excuses, but we are in trouble if that is our default position. Leaders need to find ways to eliminate or at the very least, minimize excuses for not achieving goals and priorities.

An interesting and proactive approach to eliminating excuses is an activity that I led my leaders through last week called Pre-Mortem. The activity begins by listing the goals you want to achieve in a given time frame on the top of a T-chart. Groups brainstorm and respond to the following question, “What might be some reasons why at the end of year (or whatever time frame) we have not achieved this goal?”  Each possible reason is recorded on the left side of the chart. Then groups are asked to come up with at least one strategy to address each of the reasons for not achieving the intended goal and write them on the right side of the chart. The premise is if you know the barriers of achieving your goals to begin with you can initiate strategies to address them early.  The listed strategies now become part of your plan and provide a more targeted approach for success.

The last piece of the activity that I employed with my leaders was to review the chart below and have them define whether the reasons for not succeeding were problems or conditions? This is an important part of the exercise because too often we get stuck in trying to find solutions that are simply beyond our influence or are really not that much of an issue.

PROBLEMS CONDITIONS
These are issues…

  • Within our sphere of influence or control.
  • That we want to spend time and resources on.
  • That can be resolved.
These are issues…

  • Over which we have not influence or control.
  • That we do not have enough resources to change.
  • That we do not want to change at this time.
Barth, R., Darnell, B., Lipton, LO. and Wellman, B. (2003) Guide for Instructional Leaders, Guide 1: An ASCD Action Tool

The main purpose of this activity is to really hone in on effective strategies that will see your goals better met and many of your excuses eliminated. It is not full proof, nothing ever is but it does bring attention to what you can do as opposed to what you can’t.

Finally, I would like to say that I invented this activity but the truth is I was led through it myself working with a provincial group on Adverse Childhood Experiences. The beauty is that it can be utilized in any sector, business, education or non-profit. Give it a try and see what happens to your end results!!!

From the Desk of the Superintendent- Opening Staff Address 2018

Good morning,

Before I begin my short address, I would like to introduce the leaders of our employment groups: President of the local ATA, John Templin, CUPE 1825 Jane Meeker and representing CUPE 290, Robert Reid. Thank you for your service to not only your respective organizations but to Holy Spirit Catholic School Division as a whole.

While most of you know my love of a microphone and a crowd, we are recognizing four Share the Mission Award winners today, lunch is scheduled for noon and we have training back at the board office at 1:00 PM and therefore my comments will be very brief.

I want to begin by welcoming back all of our staff and welcoming all of our new staff to Holy Spirit. I hope you had a great summer, whether it be  connecting with family, travelling, studying or just doing a “staycation” like I did. Regardless, I hope that you are well rested and feeling a sense of great enthusiasm and excitement as we begin 2018-19.

Those who work close to me saw a person who ended the school year a bit jaded because of decisions made and conditions set that were beyond my control. I got sucked into a vortex of frustration, with maybe a little anger and I was definitively negative. Not necessarily the person I want to be or the leader that you deserve. Obviously some time spent with our grandchildren helped my mood but I think the real shift came while sitting in church this summer and watching some of our own students with their parents. I realized, (after God smacked me across the head), that this work that I do is not about me and it is also not about government decisions or policies or anything else; its about them…the children, our students! And that is what it is about for all of us, no matter your position in the division.

I made a conscious decision that day when I left church that my frustration wouldn’t rule my world and cause me to forget that it is always about the students in our schools.  

When our students walk back into our schools and buildings next Tuesday we need to remind ourselves that our three priorities and therefore our focus must be on achieving our goals of faith, literacy/numeracy and First Nations, Metis and Inuit learning. Leave the noise behind and shut out the clutter because if we continue to build on what we’ve done in the last 2 years, our students will continue to benefit from our laser focus.

We are not perfect, we all have flaws that we will always need to work on but I’d put us up against any other school division. As I said yesterday at our new teacher orientation, we may be the best kept secret in Southern Alberta because by and large, you (all of you) do just what you are supposed to do and with little to no fanfare. I continue to be so proud to lead this Holy Spirit community and am so very grateful to be able to witness day in and day out the commitment of each of you to the students in our system.

May God bless you in your work this year. May you continue to walk in holiness and may you share your holiness with your school community each and every day!

Support for Instructional Leadership

Tomorrow we will be gathering with our entire Learning Leadership Team to start the school year. I always start with an address to set the tone and share my excitement and enthusiasm for the upcoming school year. In last week’s blog post, Quality School Leadership, Teaching and Optimum Learning, I touched on the importance of being an instructional leader and therefore I would be remiss if I didn’t focus on that role in tomorrow’s address.

It is easy for people to hold on to the truth that the teacher the student has makes a difference. Research is pretty clear that the teacher has the most in school influence on student learning. Teaching quality matters! What is less well-known or ignored by some is the impact of leadership on student learning. While not as important as teaching quality, it is still number two!!!

Given the importance of school leadership on student learning, it makes great sense to support the role of instructional leader. That support must begin at the top, with the Superintendent of Schools and must be operationalized in a couple of ways. One, as I’ve stated before, is my own commitment to being an instructional leader and that comes from research AND practice. Although I still teach adults, I left the classroom in 2001 and so it is imperative that I keep up with current research on practice. Lead learner  cannot just be a title, it must be the ongoing action of the superintendent. Practice comes not only from sharpening my own skills through cognitive coaching but also getting into schools and working elbow to elbow with our school leaders. I’ve committed to being in every school in our division (morning or afternoon) for formal instructional leadership work twice per year. It is in my schedule and principals will sign up their preferred dates tomorrow.

The second way to operationalize commitment to instructional leadership is my direction to senior staff. I’ve asked each of them to have the same focus on instructional leadership in their own work. In other words, it should be part of all that they do. Now, this makes sense for our educational leaders but I’ve also requested our business services personnel to do the same. Obviously they are not providing instructional leadership direct, but I have asked them to in essence, “Create efficiencies and effective processes to free up time for all leaders to focus their time and efforts on instructional leadership.”

I’m not suggesting that because I’ve made this an expectation, it is going to suddenly free up time in our principals’ days to become more involved in instructional leadership. Education is still a multi-billion dollar business and there are procedures that are non-negotiable and internal controls that are simply law. Insurance and liability concerns are grossly limiting learning opportunities in today’s educational world and although new health and safety legislation is positive, the time commitment of our principals to support and manage is exceedingly high.

But, if there is not commitment from all senior staff and we are all singing from the same page, instructional leadership will fall down on the list of just another thing to do when there is time. My message tomorrow will be quite clear, “Quality teaching and optimum learning requires instructional leadership.” Without clearing my own calendar and making it a priority, I can’t ask any of my leaders to do the same. This year and going forward, make the commitment to support instructional leadership.

 

 

 

Quality School Leadership, Teaching and Optimum Learning

This past week, I had the pleasure of co-facilitating with our Director of Learning, Lorelie Lenaour, the “Leading Learning” module at the inaugural CASS/ASBOA Summer Conference. The focus of the conference was to bring all system leaders in the province of Alberta together under one roof and begin to support the implementation of the new Superintendent Leadership Quality Standard as well as offer other learning opportunities for our business and financial leaders.

The Superintendent Leadership Quality Standard reads as follows: “Quality superintendent leadership occurs when the superintendent’s ongoing analysis of the context, and the superintendent’s decisions about what leadership knowledge abilities to apply, result in quality school leadership, quality teaching and optimum learning for all students in the school authority.” Leading learning is one of seven competencies attached to the standard and requires that, “A superintendent establishes and sustains a learning culture in the school community that promotes ongoing critical reflection on practice, shared responsibility for student success and continuous improvement.” While this is the standard specific for superintendents, ALL system leaders must be working toward achievement of this competency.

The learning cultures within the entire system and individual schools are of critical importance. They must support quality leadership and teaching in order to achieve optimum learning for all students. Our division has a very strong focus on quality leadership because, quite honestly, the most powerful position in any system is the principal. Providing the right type of support and mentoring to your leaders will result in quality teaching and optimum learning.  But what is the right support and mentoring?

I’ll always believed in transformational leadership, which focuses on relationships. Every education standard that you read and the vast majority of business excellence literature understands the importance of fostering effective relationships with your people.  It is impossible to move from good to great and then sustain greatness without first cultivating a culture of trust. That trust is most effectively developed through face to face interactions and that means getting out of my office and into schools to connect. But even though I’ve committed to spending a half day in each of our schools twice during the school year, my attention to transformational leadership won’t impact quality teaching and optimum learning to the level necessary.

What is required is a shift from transformational to instructional leadership. This shift, which results in the greatest impact on student learning, is best explained in a short conversation with Viviane Robinson. http://https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rB7wP8WJZeU  You may also read more about her research in this short brief entitled, “The impact of leadership on student outcomes: Making sense of the evidence.”

My visits therefore, must be focused on assisting our school leaders to become stronger in their role of instructional leader.  It makes no sense and is truly a waste of time, if teachers do not receive any relevant feedback on their practice when being observed (supervised) by a leader. The purpose of teacher observations must be on growth or affirmation of practice and not simply a check in the box of the supervision plan. It is an opportunity for leaders to engage their teachers to be reflective of their own practice. This is a skill, and in our division we have committed to the process of Cognitive Coaching to assist us. Reflective practice requires us to lead with questions and not simply provide advice.

Regardless of the position you hold in system or school administration, fostering a learning culture to enhance quality leadership and teaching in order to provide optimum learning for students is part of your job. It may not be an easy shift but given the research, it needs to be non-negotiable!

“New Roads to Travel” 2018 Graduation Address for St. Michael’s Bow Island

Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen, honoured guests and St. Michael’s Graduates of 2018. I always look forward to attending this graduation ceremony and am honored to bring greetings on behalf of the school division. St. Michael’s Bow Island is so unique not just because it is a small early learning to grade 12 school but more importantly because it functions as a true community. I believe it is because of that community spirit and that family atmosphere that the graduates of 2018 will be able to fully embrace their grad theme this year, “New Worlds to Travel.”    

There is an assumption that your grad theme, “New Worlds to Travel” means leaving Bow Island and for some or even all of you, that might be the case. But I think your grad theme speaks more about the new opportunities you will have in front of you. The question for you then is, “Will you take on those opportunities or will you simply be content with playing it safe and maintaining the status quo? “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”

You weren’t formed by God, educated in St. Michael’s and reared with love by your parents and families to simply play it safe! And although we could use people like authors J.K. Rowling and Stephen King, entrepreneurs like Colonel Sanders or artists like Shania Twain to demonstrate how one can overcome adversity in life and persevere to make it to the top, it is not about becoming rich and famous! It is more importantly about stretching your own self, failing forward to learn and grow, and continually getting better. What I’m asking of you, along with your family and community, is to always strive to be the best version of yourself and not of anybody else.

The safe confines of this school, which you have come to depend on for many years is no more. You are about to embark on a new journey that is not necessarily physical in nature (i.e. a move) but rather a journey that will impact you socially, emotionally, and/or spiritually. Embrace it! Accept the challenges head on! Welcome the twists and turns that you will face as you live your life to the fullest! I’m not talking about reckless abandon but rather living a life with passion and purpose. Passion… and purpose!

Although you are just starting out on this wonderful journey, I want you to imagine yourself 25 or 30 years from now. What legacy do you want to create? How do you want to be remembered? It seems so far away but I’ll guarantee your parents will say how quickly these last 12 years have gone by. Imagine your preferred future and begin setting the stage to move closer each and every day.

New worlds to travel doesn’t begin out there but in here. It begins with your heart, your desires, your passions and your purpose. Your community has positioned you well to go forward and so… go forward!

I wish you my sincerest congratulations on behalf of the school division and may God bless you in your opportunities taken, challenges faced and roads travelled! Thank you!

“Small Town, Big Dreams” 2018 Graduation Address for St. Mary’s Taber

Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen, Honoured Guests and especially to our St. Mary’s Graduates of 2018. It is always a pleasure to attend our graduation ceremonies and bring greetings on behalf of the entire school division.  

A number of years ago I was asked to do some work in New York City and provide mentoring to some American principals. One of them was the principal of a high school with over 3000 students. Most would automatically assume that this school had everything to offer but as I shared some facts about our schools, locations, grade configurations and student population, she started to wonder what it would be like to be an administrator at a school like that and then the most important question, “What was it like to be a student in those schools?” She assumed like many people who grow up in the big cities that opportunities would be less and well the experience just wouldn’t quite be the same. The more we spoke, the more she came to understand that small doesn’t mean a lack of but rather, more of… strong values, family ties, close relationships and connectedness.

I’ve had the pleasure of being a principal in two small town schools, High Prairie in northern Alberta and right here in Taber. And I can think of many of my former students who had big dreams and more importantly are fulfilling or have fulfilled those big dreams. It is not the size of your town that limits your dreams, it is the size of your mindset. What are you prepared to do to challenge yourself, to continue to grow and improve? Carol Dweck, the author of the book, “Mindset: The Psychology of Success” says, “We like to think of our champions and idols as superheroes who were born different from us. We don’t like to think of them as relatively ordinary people who made themselves extraordinary.”  Big dreams are not limited to big cities. Country star, Miranda Lambert, pop artist Pink, the TV show Friends actor Matthew Perry, actor Matthew McConaughey, legendary Canadian director, James Cameron and numerous star athletes have made their dreams come true beginning in a small town and small school. And don’t forget the many saints who began their lives in the humble surroundings of small towns.

Taber and in particular St. Mary’s, has provided you with all the great values and traditions that make living in a small town and attending a small school valuable. And the school has also ensured that you’ve developed a strong growth mindset so that you could set your standards high, dream big and always strive to get better, whether it be in your personal, academic, athletic, fine arts and spiritual life.

As you leave St. Mary’s and chase your big dreams I want to leave you with this quote from Carol Dweck: “The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of a growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.” Don’t limit yourself to small ideas or small goals. Dream big and most importantly, always strive to be the best version of yourself. Your small town and your small school are excited to see your big dreams come true!

Congratulations graduates of 2018! God bless!

From the Desk of the Superintendent- 2017-18 Year End Message

It is a beautiful Sunday afternoon. I’m sitting here on my deck after returning from Calgary earlier today. I taught my last class of this semester for Gonzaga, but the bonus was being able to see our son, daughter, son-in-law and of course our two precious grandchildren.  Emerson was born 4 weeks ago and Carter will be 2 1/2 years old in July. Each time I see them I’m reminded of the saying (paraphrased), “The days are slow but the years pass quickly!” Tomorrow begins the last official week of school before summer vacation and it seems like only yesterday we welcomed the beginning of the 2017-18 school year.

While there are many things to celebrate this year, we’ve also had to deal with some tough times too. This week we will say our final goodbyes to long time Educational Assistant Maggie Gardin who passed away last week. Maggie is the third staff member that has passed away this year in our Division. Many of our staff members and trustees have also lost parents and other family members during this year. Unfortunately in an organization our size, sadness will hit us throughout every school year. I continue to ask that you keep all of your Holy Spirit family in your prayers and I pray that God continues to shower all of us with His unconditional love, compassion, comfort and mercy.

On Wednesday, the Board of Trustees will hold their last public meeting of the school year.  They also met with our MLAs on Friday and will be meeting with our local priests on Tuesday. The meeting with the MLAs was very positive, with our trustees advocating for Catholic Education and new capital projects. Holy Spirit is very deserving and is most hopeful to be in line for a new school and/or modernization in the near future. While some provinces look to abolish school boards and some individuals even here in Alberta would like to see their demise, I cannot stress enough about the importance of having political advocacy at the local level. Holy Spirit is a high functioning school division for many reasons, including the work our local trustees.

We still have a couple more celebrations this week with the graduation ceremonies for St. Mary’s Taber and St. Michael’s Bow Island taking place. While some may not be that enamored to attend graduations, I find it is both an honour and pleasure to be invited. Each of our high schools celebrate uniquely and that is part of the fun! This week, I would ask that you keep the graduates of St. Mary’s and St. Michael’s in your thoughts and prayers as they “cross the stage”  and start their new chapter. We also have 19 retirees who will be starting new journeys. We wish our retirees the best of luck as they begin their own new chapters and offer  much gratitude to them for all of their years of service. May God grant them good health, much hope and lasting joy in their years to come.

June 17th marked my 9th anniversary of being named Superintendent of Schools for this Division. I continue to feel so blessed to be the Chief Educational Officer (CEO) of Holy Spirit. Each year, I’m reminded of the quality of staff we have in our buildings  and the leaders throughout. Great systems only come about because of great schools and great schools become that way because of great staff. The level of commitment to professional learning in our system is exceptional and continuous improvement is just what we do! I say that because while WE may take it for granted because it is just our norm, it is not necessarily commonplace in other divisions. The upcoming holidays are well deserved because of the tremendous dedication you have shown to our students and communities.

Enjoy your vacation. Spend time with your family and friends. Relax and rejuvenate! Travel safely! May God bless you this summer!

Chris

From the Desk of the Superintendent- June 2018

I’m sitting in a hotel room in Red Deer completing this blog post, after spending a glorious morning in the pool with our grandson Carter.  This past weekend, I was in Calgary teaching (weekend 2 of 4) the course “The Principalship” for Gonzaga University. Rather than return to Lethbridge on Saturday night and then turn around and drive to Red Deer for Alberta School Boards Association Spring General Meeting which begins with registration tonight, I thought I would come directly here. This makes great sense from a travel point of view but of course, the birth of our new granddaughter, Emerson Taylor, exactly a week ago today might have been even more of a driving factor. 

We had some significant events this past May with two of our high school graduations, Feather Blessing and Metis Sash ceremonies, numerous Heritage Days/Pow Wows and award celebrations. In June we will be celebrating our graduates from St. Mary’s School in Taber and St. Michael’s School in Bow Island as well as saying farewell and best wishes to our grade nine students who will be off to high school.  Please keep all of our graduates and those transitioning to new schools in the fall in your prayers. We are also excited for our annual Division Pow Wow hosted at Catholic Central High School Campus West on June 6th. I’ll be looking forward to attending before I need to get on my way to Edmonton in order to get to my CASS Board of Directors meeting for an early Thursday morning start.

I’ll be back to Edmonton on June 11th, as I’ve been invited to participate in “A Convening about Adverse Childhood Experiences” and will remain on the 12th as part of the Curriculum Implementation Advisory Committee.  But, I will back that evening to celebrate our 18 retiring staff members who will be recognized at our Board Retirement function. While I will make comments that evening, I do want to express my sincere congratulations to all of our retirees and thank them for their dedicated service to Holy Spirit Catholic School Division. Each of our retirees have made contributions in various ways to positively impact the lives of our students and their own colleagues and I wish them God’s blessing in their next journey.

Holy Spirit Catholic School Division is just about the perfect size (although we still want to grow). We are a large enough system to gain some economies of scale but we are small enough that many of us know of each other. So, when tragedy or illness or celebration or joy occurs to one of our “family” it ripples its way throughout the system. May has been a tough month for us in Holy Spirit with the passing of staff, some critical illnesses and diagnosis and some very private and deeply personal tragedies.  Earlier this week at prayer I reminded staff at St. Basil Catholic Education Centre that we don’t always know personally who may be suffering in our community but it is important to always offer an open prayer to all those who may be in need. I think that is a great reminder for all of us…just pray!

We had two public board meetings this month. The first was a regular board meeting and the second, held on May 30th was to pass the 2018-19 budget. We are anticipating a modest growth in enrollment of approximately 2.5%. With this growth and the Classroom Improvement Fund we will be adding staff supports to those schools in greatest need. We will need a little over $800,000 from reserves to balance a budget that will see over 80% targeted toward instruction.  The use of reserves to balance budgets is a fairly common occurrence that will eventually dry up in years to come. But our Board of Trustees continues to desire to grow our programs and support the needs of our students and staff in a fiscally responsible manner.

After the ASBA Spring General Meeting this week, the Board of Trustees still have some work to do before the end of the school year. Our annual meeting with our parish priests will be held in late June and they will be meeting with both our governing and opposition MLAs to further advocate for Catholic Education and new capital facilities that we are desperately requiring to support our growth in west Lethbridge. While some governments across Canada are seeing fit to eliminate school boards, this political advocacy based on division context is one of the critical reasons why school boards must continue to exist and be allowed to exercise local autonomy.

I’ll provide a final school message but until then, please enjoy this last month of the school year. God Bless!