{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.”

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

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{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

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{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.

Toronto Catholic parent group seeks school supervisor’s removal

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{mosimage}TORONTO - The chair of a Toronto Catholic parent group says she plans to file a complaint with Ontario’s ombudsman over the potential conflict-of-interest position of the provincially appointed supervisor for the Toronto Catholic District School Board.

In a letter to Education Minister Kathleen Wynne, Murielle Boudreau of the Greater Toronto Parent Network wrote that Norbert Hartmann “is usually in a conflict-of-interest situation whenever he presides over many aspects of the administration of the board” as his wife and daughter are Toronto Catholic school teachers.

Parent groups, unions upset at Ontario Education ministry’s school finder web site

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{mosimage}TORONTO -It’s “discriminatory,” “demoralizing” and should be taken down.

At least that’s what an Ontario Catholic parent group is saying about a new government web site called “School Information Finder.

Brian Evoy, president of the Ontario Association of Parents in Catholic Education , said the web site allows parents to choose schools based upon some discriminating indicators such as the percentage of students from lower-income families and those who don’t speak English as a first language. Provincial test scores are also a criteria.

Ontario Trustees to meet May 7-9

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{mosimage}TORONTO - Catholic faith plays a key role in student success, says American education researcher Fr. Ronald Nuzzi.

Nuzzi, director of the University of Notre Dame University’s Alliance for Catholic Education, will be the keynote speaker at the 79th annual conference of the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association. The conference’s main theme is “Catholic Education — Good News for All.” It is scheduled from May 7 to 9 in Toronto.

Former Toronto Catholic District School Board trustee Oliver Carroll must pay for legal fees

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{mosimage}TORONTO - A judge has ordered former Toronto Catholic District School Board trustee Oliver Carroll to pay close to $50,000 to help cover legal fees of the ratepayer who brought conflict-of-interest charges against him.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Jane Kelly ruled on April 15 that Carroll must pay $46,420 within six months. The amount will cover some of the legal costs of Catholic ratepayer Michael Baillargeon who brought the charges against Carroll.

Toronto Board trying to save St. Joseph's Morrow Park

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TORONTO - When Grade 12 student Vanessa Tillner graduates this year, she could be one of the last students to do so at the original site of St. Joseph’s Morrow Park High School.

Next year, the school celebrates its 50th anniversary at its Bayview Avenue site in the northern reaches of the city. But the Toronto Catholic District School Board says if the school’s current lease isn’t renegotiated, there will be a new all-girls school for future graduates.

Code of conduct not necessary, say Ontario trustees

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{mosimage}TORONTO - The conduct of school trustees is an issue that has dogged Ontario’s largest Catholic school board for the past year.

But as a provincial governance review committee considers a mandatory code of ethics and conduct, the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association says these types of codes should be voluntary.

Students aim for zero waste

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{mosimage}TORONTO - Students at St. John the Evangelist Catholic School spread the word about striving for a world of zero waste through a Grade 5/6 play called What a Lot of Garbage on April 27.

The students presented the play before parents, friends, local politicians MPP Laura Albanese and City Councillor Frances Nunziata and Director of Education Ann Perron.

The play was a dialogue between a reporter, a student, Mother Nature, garbage, businessmen, the government and more as they travel through time to see the effects of human actions.