St. Jerome’s, union reach settlement

St. Jerome’s University, Waterloo, OntarioSt. Jerome’s University took two steps toward peace between professors and administrators March 24 as a first contract between the faculty’s union and the university and a plan to set up a senate-like body to oversee academic matters by May 2012 were ratified by the university’s board of governors.

The union contract will see St. Jerome’s faculty keep pace with colleagues at the University of Waterloo in terms of salary and benefits. St. Jerome’s is the Catholic college federated with the University of Waterloo.

It was how the school is governed, rather than money, that inspired the professors and librarians to seek union protection. But in the end, governance issues were not part of union negotiations.

A separate working group with representatives from the board of governors, administration and academic staff was struck to report on possible reforms to how St. Jerome’s runs itself.

TCDSB to reschedule equity policy symposium

Toronto Catholic District School Board chair Ann AndrachukTORONTO - The Toronto Catholic District School Board has cancelled its upcoming symposium on the province’s equity policy, which was set to begin on March 26, with some hinting that it was because of a controversial keynote speaker.

Board chair Ann Andrachuk denied that was the case, saying the cancellation was “an issue with aligning panelists” and that it would be rescheduled.

“Everybody’s got other commitments,” she said.

But trustee John del Grande, in a March 23 newsletter to constituents, said that in addition to the scheduling conflict of panelists, some parents had raised concerns about a speaker, Chris D’Souza, a course director at the York University Faculty of Education. D’Souza is also a former equity and diversity officer with the Dufferin Peel Catholic District School Board.

Celebrating Fr. Troy’s unconventional ways

Fr. Michael TroyTORONTO - Spiritan Father Michael Troy, founding father and principal at Toronto’s Neil McNeil High School, had an untraditional way of thinking, said Fr. Gerald FitzGerald.

“There was a rapport, a relationship and a casualness between the priest-teachers and the boys that did not exist elsewhere and that was the unique spirit of Neil McNeil,” said FitzGerald, a fellow Spiritan who was a seminarian under Troy in Dublin and a science teacher at Neil McNeil. “He came in at a unique time in the spread of Catholic education — and I think he left a stamp on it.

“I think he shook up Catholic education,” said FitzGerald. “He came here with no preconceived ideas and he brought with him a tremendous freshness.”

Catholic groups have concerns over full-day kindergarten

While many people are praising full-day kindergarten, there are concerns over the costs as well as after-school care. (CNS photo/Mike Crupi)TORONTO - While Ontario’s full-day kindergarten program is in high demand and considered by several Catholic education groups an “investment” in the future, there remain concerns.

The provincial government introduced the full-day kindergarten program in September 2010 at about 600 schools across the province. By September 2012, there will be close to triple that number of schools offering the program.

Among the issues that need to be worked out are funding and after-school care, according to some Catholic groups. Dan Barrett, president of the Toronto Association of Parents in Catholic Education, says once the full-day kindergarten classes end for the day, making an arrangement for care afterwards can be “problematic.”

New tool to help pick Catholic education

CCCM president Fr. Daniel Renaud and CCCM co-ordinator Lori Neale. (Photo by Deborah Gyapong)OTTAWA - Canadian Catholic Campus Ministry (CCCM) has devised a tool to help guide students in choosing a university where there` can keep their faith alive.

The tool can help students find a school where there is a “vibrant, active student ministry” that will help “nurture their faith” and allow them to “blossom,” said CCCM co-ordinator Lori Neale.

The 2011 Status Report on Catholic Campus Ministry in Canada is the first of a series of status reports on the state of campus ministry across Canada. Neale said CCCM will track the information by doing a similar study in another two or three years.

School board’s equity policy up for debate

Toronto Catholic District School BoardTORONTO - As the Toronto Catholic District School Board hammers out its equity policy over the next several weeks, with public consultations scheduled for the end of March, some parents and trustees say “stronger language” is needed to ensure that the province’s policy to promote diversity in “gender identity” doesn’t bypass Catholic school’s denominational rights.

But others fear stronger language could have adverse consequences if Catholic school board’s denominational rights are ever the focus of a court challenge.

Last year, school boards began implementing equity and inclusive education policies, with guidelines from the education ministry.

The province introduced its equity and education strategy in 2008 to prohibit discrimination based upon race, religion and sexual orientation. It became law in 2009.