Features

{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

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{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.”

No easy answers with end-of-life care

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{mosimage}TORONTO - There are no easy and pat answers on the difficult question of artificial nutrition and hydration for patients with little brain function and less hope of recovery, bioethicist Moira McQueen told a packed lecture hall at the University of St. Michael’s College March 25.

“Moral theology is quite humble about its findings. It demands moral certainty but not absolute certainty,” McQueen said in delivering her half of the fifth annual Cardinal Ambrozic Lecture in Bioethics for the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute. McQueen is executive director of the institute.

St. Jerome's faculty sign union cards

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{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.

Vatican and Britain unite in call for new development bank

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{mosimage}When G-20 leaders gather in London April 2 to try to fix a broken global economy they will have to deal with a challenge their host, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, laid out on the front page of  L’Osservatore Romano Feb. 19.

Brown’s manifesto in the Vatican newspaper followed a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI in which the son of a Presbyterian minister and the supreme pontiff discussed the role of morality in keeping capitalism on track.

Ontario high-school chaplaincy too valuable to lose

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{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

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{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

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{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. 

Where have good manners gone?

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{mosimage}TORONTO - From the catwalk to the classroom, former fashion model Judi Vankevich is a role model of good manners for kids.

Vankevich, a.k.a. the Manners Lady, is a mother of three and former beauty pageant contestant who says learning manners was a staple in her family when she was growing up in Mississauga.

“I realize that Canadians have a worldwide reputation for having good manners,” she said.

Canadian Catholic School Trustees honour retired archbishop Joseph MacNeil

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{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.

Grant empowers Dufferin-Peel youth

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{mosimage}MISSISSAUGA, Ont. - Thirty-five Dufferin-Peel Catholic schools were excited to receive a total of $78,594 through the Ministry of Education’s Student Voice Program this month.

The program, now in its second year, provided financial aid to Grades 7 to 12 students at more than 850 schools across Ontario this year.

With the funding, the Dufferin-Peel schools will be able to move forward with 73 projects to help students become more engaged in learning and interacting with their communities.