Catholic school partners to join in ‘national conversation’

{mosimage}TORONTO - It’s touted as the first “national conversation” on Catholic education in Canada.

The Catholic Education: A National Conversation conference is expected to draw 400 parents, students, teachers, school administrators, clergy and trustees to Ottawa Sept. 26-27 for the inaugural conference.

New text relates Catholicism to the other world religions

TORONTO - A new world religions textbook being prepared for Ontario high schools will offer a distinctly Canadian and Roman Catholic perspective on different faiths, according to one of its authors.

The textbook, with the working title World Religions: A Canadian Catholic Perspective, will be the first of its kind specifically geared towards Grade 11 world religion students in Catholic schools.

Specialized religious teaching program now offered

TORONTO - The first concurrent program to prepare religion teachers for Ontario Catholic high schools will be launched this fall.

The program is in response to the lack of qualified high school religion teachers currently working in Catholic schools.

Community anger boils over downsized rec centre

TORONTO - Amid vocal community opposition, a controversial $2.7-million community centre at Etobicoke’s Father John Redmond Catholic High School is set to begin construction this fall.

Toronto Catholic District School Board trustee Ann Andrachuk said the agreement between the City of Toronto and the board to complete the Ken Cox Community Centre is “moving forward.”

Ontario's schools struggle with empty classrooms

{mosimage}TORONTO - Declining student enrolment will be a key issue this coming school year for Ontario Catholic school boards, says the president of the Ontario Catholic School Trustees' Association.

“There are quite frankly less children and I think, with the exception of four or five boards experiencing some growth, the rest are in declining mode,” Paula Peroni told The Catholic Register.

Parents seek input on police in schools

{mosimage}TORONTO - Parents and student councils should be consulted before the Catholic school board assigns police to about eight high schools, says a Toronto-based parents’ group.

Former board chair taken to court

{mosimage}TORONTO - Michael Baillargeon, a former candidate for a seat on the Toronto Catholic District School Board, is taking Oliver Carroll to court alleging Carroll improperly influenced the board’s budget process to prevent his daughter from being laid off from her teaching job with the board.

York U. student council taken to task for lack of tolerance

TORONTO - A York University campus group has launched a formal complaint to the school about the York Federation of Students (YFS), which denied the group space to hold a debate on abortion in March.

In its complaint, under the York University Student Code of Ethics, the Students for Bioethical Awareness (SBA) also address its concern with the motion passed by the Canadian Federation of Students that promised support for any member union that would like to deny resources or space to pro-life student groups.

A spokesman for the SBA, which is not explicitly a pro-life group, said the York federation should not have had the right to prevent the debate from happening in the student centre. The SBA oraganizes debates and discussions on a variety of topics related to bioethics.

Although the university later gave the group an alternate space on campus for the debate, the SBA contends that having to go to a higher power was deplorable.

“I hope that the YFS and Gilary Massa will practise what they preach about with regards to tolerance because they don’t seem tolerant,” said the spokesman. “We are just an educational group.”

In June, the federation unanimously voted to to deny resources and funding to student clubs or individuals “whose primary or sole purpose is anti-choice activity.”

Massa, vice president of the YFS, told The Catholic Register at that time the decision would not affect any club’s ability, including the SBA, to apply for and gain club status. She said the debate was cancelled because it was offensive to many women, which followed the school government’s mandate to work on an “anti-oppressive framework” and on serving minority communities.

However, the SBA is angry that students are “forced to support an organization that (we) personally don’t support.” Students are automatically charged $7.20 on top of their tuition each year by the CFS.

Theresa Matters, executive director of National Campus Life Network, said the administration needs to realize how negatively the CFS’s decisions affect campuses.

Alway era comes to an end at University of St. Michael’s College

{mosimage}TORONTO - Dr. Richard Alway has graced the buildings of the University of St. Michael’s College in Toronto for almost half a century — first as a philosophy student and later in various administrative roles. As he prepares to retire June 30 from 18 years as president of the college, Alway has said that he will continue to serve the school in some capacity because it has become such a big part of his life.

“The supportive context provided by the religious identity of the university and the presence of the priests and sisters was just very positive for me,” he said. “It obviously worked because I’ve hardly left since.”

Deal guarantees school labour peace in Ontario

{mosimage}TORONTO - The union representing Ontario’s Catholic teachers and the association for Catholic trustees have signed off on a new, province-wide framework agreement aimed at four more years of labour peace in the province’s schools.

School board chair vows to stay on

{mosimage}TORONTO - Major newspapers, the Peterborough-and-area Catholic school board and hundreds of parents have called on Toronto’s Catholic school trustees to resign. But board chair Catherine Leblanc-Miller rejects the calls.

“If I am resigning... it  will be because of the impact of all of this on my family,” she told The Catholic Register. “It will be because of the countless hours over recent weeks and months that I have neglected my family. It will not  be because of any shame I feel.”