It is hard to believe that we are entering the 2nd half of the school year. Semester 1 is completed and diploma exams are finished for our high school students. Plus, we have certainly not experienced the winter weather that is typical for this time of year. With the exception of a short cold snap, a couple of weeks ago, and some hurricane force winds, our winter season has been fairly mild.
The January Board meeting was highlighted by a presentation from St. Joseph School in Coaldale. Val Leahy and Zac Coupland introduced the board to their exciting project, “Gone with the Wind!” With the successful grant application to BP Energy of $10,000.00, the school was able to purchase a solar array and 20 iPods. However, the project quickly developed into further “green solutions” with St. Joseph being the recipient of a wind turbine through the cooperation of Enmax. The Board was extremely appreciative of the update, impressed by the work of Mrs. Leahy and Mr. Coupland, and excited about the many future learning possibilities for students at St. Joseph School. For more information on the Board meeting, please see the Board Meeting Briefs.
The West side public consultation occurred in January, with over 120 people in attendance from the school communities of St. Patrick FAE, Children of St. Martha and Father Leonard van Tighem. The event produced a wealth of feedback on questions designed by the multi-school committee, who sought direction on topics that included boundaries, transportation, programming and configurations. An additional 100+ participant forms were also submitted electronically to provide the opportunity for additional feedback. The Board has been presented with the raw data and directed me to provide a report with potential scenarios, recommendations and further questions at the next board meeting. On behalf of the Board and Senior Administration, I would like to thank all of the participants for their input.
February marks the beginning of the registration process for our schools. Advertisements have been placed in school newsletters, our division website and both print and radio media to highlight this date. However, the best advertisement of our system comes from within our community, our staff, our students and our parents. I would encourage all of you to promote your schools and the division as a whole. I am very proud of the high quality Catholic education that we provide at Holy Spirit. We are able to address the spiritual, academic, emotional, social and physical needs of our students in a Christ-centred environment. Our commitment to transform education to better prepare our students for the 21st century and be inclusive in our approach continues to be a focus in our division. In the next few days, you will receive our 2010-11 Annual Report which provides testimony of our many successes and strengths of the division. If you would like further copies of this report for your business or personal use, please contact your local school or central office directly.
On February 9th, the provincial budget will be announced. We are hopeful that the budget will provide long term, predictable and stable funding for education. The return of 107 million to school boards by Premier Redford was certainly a welcome to this year’s budget. The Board of Trustees voted unanimously to allocate the total amount received (approximately $667,000) back into staffing. It will be interesting to see if and how the current tripartite discussions impact the education budget. These negotiations involve the provincial government, Alberta Teachers’ Association and the Alberta School Boards Association and to date, no agreements have been announced. Stay tuned after the budget for more information.
And finally, February brings about the beginning of our Lenten journey. In Lent, we are asked to engage in purposeful action. We are called and our response must be immediate to put Christ in the middle of our lives in preparation for the death and resurrection of our Lord. As we enter the season of Lent with Ash Wednesday on February 22nd, we are reminded to see Christ in ourselves and in others and be Christ-like in our thoughts and actions. It is an opportunity to share our many gifts through sacrifice and almsgiving to those in need. And most importantly we humbly pray and ask the Lord for continual guidance in God’s ways. May God bless you this Lenten season!