February marks the mid-point of the school year, the start of the second semester or the third quarter. It also signals the beginning stages of planning; 3-year education, capital and annual budget for 2013-14. There is a certain flow that occurs in the planning cycle in education. The government provides school jurisdictions with their Accountability Pillar results in October. Audited Financial Statements are approved and the Annual Education Results Report is provided to the Board, staff and stakeholders at the end of November. The information is complied in short form (AERR mini summary) and also published in an annual report that will soon be released. All of these documents allow us to look back and reflect before we begin to plan and move forward.
The planning cycle was a foundational component of the regular Board meeting in January. Trustees reviewed our enrolment projections in preparation for the capital plan and scheduled a further working session to delve more deeply into what these trends suggest. Overall, our system continues to maintain strong student numbers and expects an increase of nearly 800 students in the next 10 years. This same information has been shared with our Learning Leadership Team, who are critical in providing grassroots perspectives and leadership precision in the development and operatization of these plans. Additionally, the Board and Senior Administration requires feedback from staff and parents on our current state of affairs and assistance in furthering our mission of delivering high quality Catholic education. This year, the Board will provide two separate opportunities for consultation with staff (February 5th) and with parents (February 11th). Conversations with both staff and parents have warranted the decision to move to two separate consultation evenings. This is a new endeavour for Holy Spirit and we will evaluate the effectiveness of hosting individual staff/parent evenings. In order to plan appropriately for the evening, interested participants are asked to register by contacting Rose-Marie Nyberg by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone (403-327-9555). For a complete recap of the January Board meeting please see the Board Brief.
An important meeting was held in January with the Minister of Education Jeff Johnson. Minister Johnson’s provincial tour allowed trustees to meet and discuss areas of mutual interest. It was an extremely positive meeting, that allowed our trustees to highlight many of the innovative practices currently established within our division that support a transformed education system. Minister Johnson is a tremendous supporter of an education system that puts students at the center of all decisions and was most impressed with many of our initiatives in Holy Spirit that are developing engaged thinkers, ethical citizens with an entrepreneurial spirit. In fact, earlier this week, I was invited to present at the Curriculum Redesign workshop organized by Alberta Education to talk about how we were addressing Inspiring Education. Our AISI project continues to leverage our work with teachers in supporting creative and innovative practices that are engaging for our students. It is a great source of pride to be recognized at the provincial level for the outstanding work happening within our schools.
Finally, the month of February brings the important season of Lent upon us. In Lent, we are asked to engage in purposeful action to help those around us. We are called to respond to Christ and ensure that He is placed in the middle of our lives. We prepare for the death and resurrection of our Lord. As we enter the season of Lent with Ash Wednesday on February 13th, we are reminded to see the face of Christ in all we meet and be Christ-like in our thoughts and actions. Lent provides an opportunity to share our many gifts through sacrifice and alms-giving to those in need. May God bless you this Lenten season!