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!