November is a busy month for senior administration and the Board of Trustees with a number of local and provincial meetings. Catholic Superintendents get together for two days of meetings to discuss issues directly related to Catholic education. I welcome the opportunity to connect with my colleagues from around the province and engage in some intense professional dialogue. Our trustees and I were involved in the annual general meetings of both the Alberta Catholic School Trustees’ Association and the Alberta School Boards’ Association. A part of the ACSTA convention is a faith component. This year we were treated to a keynote and workshop entitled, “Standing Outside the Fire; The Life that Evangelizes” from Bishop Murray Chatlain of the Diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith.
“As Catholics we recognize the goodness inside of ourselves and in others. Once we acknowledge the ‘gold’ inside of us, then we can examine our limitations/weaknesses and build on a humble and honest foundation. This is a foundation that we then use to extend beyond ourselves and create the basis of a spiritual community that combats the potential isolation that arises in today’s individual society.”
The November board meeting is always characterized by three major document approvals: (1) Audited Financial Statement, (2) Operating Budget and (3) Combined Annual Education Results Report/Three-Year Education Plan These documents are placed on our website to ensure transparency to our staff and public. Here are some of the highlights of the documents that were tweeted out (@cdsmeaton) during the meeting:
- Holy Spirit spent $12,271 per student in 2011-12 compared to $11,719 in 2010-11. An increase of 4.72%
- As of Aug 31, 2012, $767,144 in school generated funds are in our 13 schools.
- KPMG provided a clean audit report to Holy Spirit Catholic Schools
- Operating reserves of $699,649 will be required to balance the 2012-13 budget.
- Certificated staff increases by 4.75 FTE from 2011-12. Preliminary budget expected a 1.57 FTE decrease.
- Non-certificated staff increase of 10.42 FTE from 2011-12. Preliminary budget expected a reduction of 8.2 FTE
- Holy Spirit will spend $42,105,974 on instruction this year, which = 78.16% of the total budget
Included in our November board meeting were a number of important information items. The first item that is of interest to our parents is the nomination package for the Excellence in Teaching Awards. The deadline for nominating one of our excellent teachers is February 13, 2013. A second item shared with our trustees was our beginning work on the Collaborative Peer Mentor Program. This is an exceptional program that will see teachers working together from an instructional coaching model that will positively impact teacher pedagogy. Finally, the Division’s Continuous Improvement Plan quarterly report was presented. For complete details on the November board meeting, please check out the Board Briefs.
There was also a couple of major announcements from a provincial perspective in November. The first was the passing of Bill 3- Education Act in the Alberta Legislature on November 19, 2012. This is exciting news for school boards throughout the province. At the joint Council of School Council Chairs/Board meeting on Monday, December 3rd, I will be presenting information on the highlights of the new legislation. Although the Bill has passed, there is still much work to be done in terms of corresponding regulations. Given this work, it is expected that the Education Act will not come into effect until September 2015. The second major announcement came from the provincial body of the Alberta Teachers’ Association stating their withdrawal from tripartite negotiations. Reactions from the two other partners in the tripartite discussions, the government (Education Minister Jeff Johnson) and ASBA (President Jacquie Hansen) are included in these links. The next steps of the negotiation process will depend on the decisions of the government.
The first week of Advent begins this Sunday, meaning we are just around the corner to Christmas. These next three weeks until school vacation will fly by with activities galore. However, as a Catholic school division, we must be conscious to ensure that even in the busyness of the time, we fully prepare for the coming of Christ. Advent is our preparation time! It is the time when we ready ourselves to welcome the birth of Christ. Santa Claus and reindeers are part of our society but Christmas is all about Christ.
On behalf of the Board of Trustees and Senior Administration, I would like to wish everyone a wonderful December as you prepare for the coming of our Lord! God Bless!