Happy Easter! I hope that our staff, students and their families are enjoying a wonderful vacation. We return to school next week remembering that we are a resurrection people. Our risen Lord brings light to our world and peace to our hearts.
Our March board meeting continued with our planning process. The 2014-17 Capital Plan was approved by the Board. The Division is hopeful that our capital priorities will be met in the coming years. A thorough review of our buildings and enrolment trends have led the Board to re-submit the following priorities: (1) Modernization and right-sizing of St. Michael School in Pincher Creek, (2) Modernization of St. Patrick School in Taber, and (3) New elementary school in north Lethbridge.
A second item approved by the Board was the 2013-14 strategic priorities. These priorities have been established through consultations with our parents and staff and ongoing conversations with our school adminstrators and align with the business plan of Alberta Education. Our first priority always revolves around our Catholic faith. Our Catholic identity must be visible in all that we say and do and involves the faith formation of our staff and students and strong relationships with our local parishes. Our second priority establishes our commitment to the success of every student. We are blessed to live in a diverse society and recognize the importance of meeting the needs of all children in the environment best suited for their learning. Finally, the Board and division as a whole believes in open and transparent operations. Ongoing communications to all of our stakeholders and a greater opportunity for engagement characterizes the priority of generative governance. A great synopsis of our board meeting can be found by viewing our Board Briefs.
During March, a Framework Agreement was made between the Government of Alberta and the Provincial Alberta Teachers’ Association. This agreement was made without any provincial representation from boards. At a special meeting, the board recommended that the Alberta School Boards’ Association reject that agreement on the principle of non-involvement. Although the government provides the majority of funding for education, individual school divisions are the employers and being left out of the conversations was not well received. This Framework Agreement needs to be ratified by all ATA locals and school divisions by a deadline of May 13. Our Board of Trustees and Senior Administration will be reviewing this agreement through many lenses but ultimately from the position of what is best for our students.
A preliminary review of the budget for next year suggests a deficit of nearly 1.5 million dollars. This is assuming that everything stays the same from this year. Excellent stewardship of our funding by both the Board and school/senior administration should allow us to continue to maintain the high quality of education we are accustomed to in our schools. We are fortunate enough to maintain a positive enrolment trend in our division, especially in many of our rural communities. This trend is certainly not the norm and speaks to the excellent programming provided in our schools. Our concentrated effort to build teacher capacity, promote early learning and continually focus on learner engagement has established Holy Spirit as an innovative and high perfoming division. This label is something that we should all take pride in!
On behalf of the Board and Senior Administration welcome to April and hopefully to some wonderful spring weather!