Three months of school complete and less than three weeks before Christmas vacation. It always amazes me on how quickly the school year passes. Each month I read in the newsletters about the many activities that occur in our schools and the tremendous learning opportunities afforded to our students. I continue to be very grateful for the work done to support our students daily.
The November board meeting is always characterized by (1) Audited Financial Statements, (2) Updated Budget and (3) Combined Annual Education Results Report/3-Year Education Plan. The importance of the finances of the Division cannot be understated. Even though we are an education system and in the people business, our budget is nearly 60 million dollars. Given that this money is public, it is very important that the independent auditors can give (and did give) a clear opinion on the financials. For educators, that is like getting top marks on the test!
Our education results continue to be strong in many areas. In the most recent Accountability Pillar Report, our Division received an overall rating of excellent in the following categories: Safe and Caring, Program of Studies, Education Quality, Drop Out Rate, Rutherford Scholarship Eligibility Rate, Citizenship, Parental Involvement and School Improvement. One of the reasons for our results is a commitment to the hiring of front line staff. Since 2013-14, we’ve added almost 24 FTE teachers and nearly 22 FTE support staff. Just under 80% of our entire budget (79.75%) is spent on instruction. But results will always come back to the quality of the school and the quality of instruction and that is why Holy Spirit continues to excel. A great summary of our Annual Education Results Report is provided here.
This past Sunday we celebrated the first Sunday of Advent. Advent is the time that we, as Christians prepare for the coming of the Christ child. In our Catholic schools, the celebrations we hold during the Season of Advent demonstrates our uniqueness. But what else distinguishes us? What do we do in our daily lives that demonstrates we work in a Catholic organization? What is the evidence that we live out our mission that states, “Our Catholic faith is the foundation of all that we do.” This is not an easy question to respond to, but one that we must all reflect upon as we continually journey in our faith. To support this journey, our Director of Religious Education, Joann Bartley and our Division Religious Education Committee have developed a resource that many of our schools are using: Six Strands of Religious Education. As you journey through Advent and celebrate the beginning of the Year of Mercy on December 8th, I extend the message from Pope Francis that calls all of us to be people of joy and mercy. Embedded here is a wonderful video that explains the Corporal Works of Mercy. May God Bless you as you prepare for the birth of our Saviour!