Mary Ann Robillard chosen as Toronto Catholic School Board's newest trustee

{mosimage}TORONTO - The Toronto Catholic District School Board has a new trustee but the same old problem, says a Toronto Catholic parents group.

Murielle Boudreau, chair of the Greater Toronto Catholic Parent Network, says appointing Mary Ann Robillard, a former trustee and one-time assistant to Oliver Carroll, to the seat vacated by Carroll is like appointing her old boss.

    Toronto Catholic District School Board budget cuts for special ed programs

    {mosimage}TORONTO - Close to 6,000 students enrolled in the Toronto Catholic District School Board’s special education programs will suffer from the upcoming reassignment of 67 teachers, says the head of the teachers’ union.

    “How can you remove 67 teachers and not expect it to have a detrimental impact on the neediest students?” said Anthony Bellissimo, president of the Toronto Elementary Catholic Teachers , adding there is a waiting list to get needy students into special education classes.

      Equitable financing sought for Ontario schoool extracurricular activities

      {mosimage}TORONTO  - The Ontario Student Trustees’ Association says students don’t have equal access to after-school activities in the province.

      In a January 2009 report called “Equitable Education? The Cost of Extra-curriculars in Ontario’s Schools,” the association recommended that the provincial government and school boards adopt a standardized fee system in Ontario and address the lack of access to after-school activities by students who can’t afford to participate.

      “A substantial part of education is neither free nor equitable. The rich receive the benefit of experience while the poor receive a no-frills education; the wealthy can afford to participate in extracurricular activities while the poor cannot,” the report said.

        South Pole trek aids Hamilton Catholic schools

        {mosimage}A trek to the South Pole helped raise $101,595 for schools within the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board.

        Four Hamilton, Ont.-area businessmen — Peter Turkstra, president of Turkstra Lumber, Steve Stipsits, owner of Branthaven Homes, Fred Losani, CEO of Losani Homes, and Mark MacLennan, director of manufacturing for The Econo-Rack Group Inc. — set out on their South Pole for Kids adventure in December in support of 35 charities that would provide help to underprivileged children. They raised $550,000 to support local causes.

        Losani said they chose charities where they knew the money would go directly to helping the children. The Catholic school board had been particularly pleasant to work with after the group’s 2006 fundraising trip to the North Pole which Losani, Turkstra and Stipsits had completed with two other men, raising a half-million dollars.

          $600 million pledged for Ontario schools

          {mosimage}TORONTO - It’s a $50-million cut for computers and textbooks, but $600 million more for Ontario’s publicly funded school boards next year.

           Although declining enrolment and the economic downturn are leading to cuts in computer and textbook funding, Catholic education groups say students will benefit from the Ontario government’s commitment, announced in the March 26 budget, to more funding for public schools.

          “These are difficult economic times for all sectors and I appreciate the steps the government has taken to maintain its support for effective initiatives around numeracy, literacy and secondary student success,” said Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association president Paula Peroni.

            Earth Hour celebrated in Toronto area schools

            {mosimage}TORONTO - Catholic schools in the Toronto area joined millions of people worldwide in turning off their lights for Earth Hour March 27, but for many, the practice is a daily routine.

            In the York Catholic District School Board, 18 elementary schools have been monitoring their energy consumption by classroom, with students rushing to turn off lights, computers and other appliances when a special warning LED “Save Energy” sign warns them of over-usage. The initiative is part of the board’s Eco Champion program launched last year.

            “So far these schools have saved 10 per cent of their total consumption on a yearly basis,” said Norman Vezina, the board’s senior manager of environmental services. “It’s amazing the impact they’ve had — you walk into (one of those) schools and you can’t leave a light on because students are chastising you.”

              St. Jerome's faculty sign union cards

              {mosimage}Twenty of 31 full-time faculty at St. Jerome’s University have signed union cards and expect to form a legal bargaining unit with a secret ballot vote before the end of March.

              St. Jerome’s president Fr. David Perrin would not comment on whether the formation of a union would be good or bad for the university.

              “This is a labour relations issue. I can’t comment,” he said.

                Ontario high-school chaplaincy too valuable to lose

                {mosimage}TORONTO - Catholic school boards should invest adequate resources into high school chaplaincy, says the Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops.

                In a pastoral letter issued this month, the conference said while it recognizes the budgetary constraints that school boards face, chaplaincy is too important to be cut.

                  Ontario Minister of Education, Kathleen Wynne, says no to charter schools

                  {mosimage}TORONTO - It’s no to an American-style educational overhaul and yes to continued support for Ontario’s publicly funded education system, albeit on a tighter budget, says Kathleen Wynne.

                  The education minister said Ontario won’t be following U.S. President Barack Obama’s proposals on merit-based teacher salaries or charter schools.

                    Members sought for Toronto Catholic District School Board's advisory committee

                    {mosimage}TORONTO - The Toronto Catholic District School Board is creating a new community advisory committee.

                    The board is calling for nominations to the committee “to enhance opportunities to provide input and advice to the supervision team.”

                    It alluded to provincially appointed supervisor Norbert Hartmann’s Aug. 26 report entitled “Strengthening Public Trust and Confidence ” which had mentioned this committee. 

                      Canadian Catholic School Trustees honour retired archbishop Joseph MacNeil

                      {mosimage}Edmonton Archbishop-emeritus Joseph MacNeil will be honoured in June with Canada’s top Catholic education award.

                      MacNeil is to receive the Justice James Higgins Award. Sponsored by the Canadian Catholic School Trustees’ Association , it recognizes exceptional service in Catholic education.