December has arrived, which means I am rid of my “Movember” throwback Tom Selleck, Magnum PI moustache. Great cause…terrible look for me today!
All joking aside, the start of December is important for us in our Catholic tradition, as it is the beginning of our liturgical year. Over the next four Sundays we will be celebrating the Season of Advent in preparation of the coming of the Christ child. New beginnings are always important as they give us an opportunity to “reboot.” How do we get ready for Christmas? Who do we need to forgive? How do we learn to give more of ourselves to help those less fortunate and in need? All of these are questions to be reflective upon during this season.
But there is something else we must be aware of as we journey toward Christmas. Sadly, this most Holy season is not beautiful for all. Christmas can be a reminder to some of fractured families and broken relationships. It can cause anxiety or fear when food might be scarce or safety might be in question. It can also be a source of heartache if love is not present. Sometimes we are aware of the students and staff in our schools who will feel this way but many others either hide it well or lash out without us really knowing why. I think the second group I’ve mentioned are the most difficult, because we often want to lash back because “they” deserve it. And, maybe they do, but in this Advent Season we might want to look for a softer approach and a more compassionate response because…
The month of November is always hectic. With meetings and conferences for CASS, CCSSA, ACSTA and ASBA, I felt like I was never home sleeping in my own bed. But one of the great benefits of attending those meetings and conferences is the opportunity to learn from others and share our own practices. Education is far too complex for anybody to do it on their own anymore and that is why I was so happy with the direction of our Division PD Day. Sharing our expertise and areas for growth in collaborative structures should always positively impact our practice and ultimately our students’ successes. I’m hopeful that we can arrange at least a couple of these collaboration days into future calendars.
The November board meeting tends to be the “meatiest” of all yearly meetings. The Board of Trustees are presented with the quarterly review of our Continuous Improvement Plan and are provided with the 2017-18 Annual Education Results Report. The Fall Budget Update is provided as well as the Audited Financial Statements. Expenses are consistently higher than revenues and this year the Board dipped into their operating reserves to the tune of $752,829 plus $190,000 from capital reserves to balance our $65,632,839 budget. Over 79% of this budget will be spent on instruction and the percentages to be spent in the areas of Operations and Maintenance, Capital and Debt Services, Transportation and Board and System Administration have each been decreased from the actuals in 2017-18. While our enrollment growth this year did not meet our projection, I’m very pleased that we continue to place supports both certificated and non-certificated into our schools directly. Over the last five year period, our enrolment growth has been 4.8% while I growth of certificated personnel has been 11.9%. This year alone we’ve added 6.28 FTE to our teaching composite and 11.73 FTE to our support staff. This type of data is a great testament to our Board’s commitment to student learning.
As was communicated on Friday, Brian Macauley has announced his intention to access our Voluntary Retirement Program and will be completing his tenure as Deputy Superintendent on June 30, 2019. The deadline for accessing this program is December 14th. I know there are a number of staff who have made contact with HR to discuss this program more fully. I can also make myself available for those who would like to discuss their future plans with me. This is never an easy decision and so please know that my prayers are with you in your discernment.
Winter hit today and so roads won’t necessarily be great for travel so stay safe out there. Please remember your impact on others as we journey together in this Advent Season. Your response may lift up or put down those most in need. May this Advent Season be one of prayer, forgiveness, compassion and love. Have a wonderful December and God Bless!