Text Box: The Trustees’ Journal is produced online throughout each school year. 
It is a forum where members of the Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools Board of Education will share information about what they’re working on for our division.  
Text Box: June 2006

Full-day kindergarten pilot project expands to three new schools

Sod-turning marks next chapter

for Bethlehem Catholic High School

Students look on as dignitaries turn sod for the facilities at Blairmore Centre. Wielding shovels are (from left) Jim Carriere, board chair, Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools; Dan Danielson, board chair, Saskatoon Public Schools; Mayor Don Atchison; Premier Lorne Calvert

The construction sites at the end of Saskatoon’s 22nd Street West, bustling with activity since the beginning of May, saw a different type of action on the morning of May 24.

 

Premier Lorne Calvert, Mayor Don Atchison and Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools board chair Jim Carriere were among the nearly 100 people who braved cool, windy weather to attend the joint sod-turning for Bethlehem Catholic High School, a civic recreation centre and Tommy Douglas Collegiate.

 

“Our school division, Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools, is so thrilled that this day is finally here,” Carriere told the assembled students, teachers, parents, trustees and school division staff. Several people from the City of Saskatoon and Saskatoon Public schools also attended the event.

 

“Today, we are marking the next chapter in the life of Bethlehem Catholic High School. I say the next chapter because our school, Bethlehem, has already existed in our minds and in our hearts for some time now,” Carriere added.

 

He highlighted the fact that GSCS has already consulted extensively with the staff and families that will call Bethlehem home, so that their opinions could be considered in the building of the school. The board chair also stressed that Bethlehem will be a distinctively Catholic facility that will highlight the benefits of faith-based education.

 

The cost of the school, approximately $25 million, will be shared with the provincial government, which is contributing $17 million.

 

Premier Lorne Calvert told the group that the need for new west-side high schools was the issue raised most often by his Riversdale constituents. “Today, that wish is becoming a reality,” Calvert said.

 

In a very significant part of the program, Bishop Albert LeGatt blessed Bethlehem Catholic High School. Elder Simon Kytwayhat, representing Saskatoon’s aboriginal community, sang an honour song to mark the occasion and placed an offering of tobacco at the sod-turning site.

 

A few moments later, Calvert, Carriere, Atchison and public board chair Dan Danielson turned sod at the site as dozens of future students looked on.

 

Both high schools and Phase I of the civic recreation centre are scheduled to open in fall 2007. Phase II of the recreation centre is to include a 50-metre competitive pool. The area housing the facilities is now known as the Blairmore Centre. For more information, visit this link to more Blairmore information on the City of Saskatoon website.

Bethlehem Sod Turning

Full-Day Kindergarten Project Expands

Full Day Kindergarten Project Expands

Dress Code Policies Passed

Bethlehem Sod Turning

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In This Issue

When children return to school in the fall, full-time kindergarten will be available at three additional schools in the Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools system.

 

The Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools Board of Education voted recently to expand this pilot program to St. Mary Community School in Pleasant Hill. In a vote taken earlier this spring, trustees added the program to St. George School in Lawson Heights and St. Philip School in Adelaide Park/Churchill. The program has already operated for one full school year at Bishop Klein in Massey Place, St. Goretti School in Mount Royal and St. Volodymyr in Forest Grove.

 

The board chose to expand full-day kindergarten so that more children in our school division will have the opportunity to participate in the program. Research suggests positive learning outcomes for children as a result of full-day, everyday Kindergarten.

 

Since the program was implemented at the beginning of the 2005-2006 school year, feedback from teachers and parents alike has been positive. Teachers are saying that the extra time they have with students allows them to focus even more on the numeracy, literacy and pre-reading skills children will need as they begin their elementary school careers.

 

“My students are excited to be at school. They are excited to learn,” said one full-time Kindergarten teacher.

 

Greater Saskatoon Schools is currently working with Saskatchewan Learning, four other school divisions and the Community University Institute for Social Research (CUISR) to develop an evaluation plan for full-day kindergarten so that there will be as much information as possible on how the program works in Saskatchewan.

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Dress Code Policies Passed

Board passes policy to assist schools that want to explore student uniforms

The Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools Board of Education has adopted three new policies involving staff and student dress.

 

The policies, passed at the board’s regular meeting on June 19, will be implemented when school resumes in August. They resulted from the work of a committee of board members, administrators, principals, vice-principals and staff that met throughout Spring 2006.

 

The Uniform Dress Policy, which has garnered the most attention from the community to date, does not require that students begin wearing uniforms in the fall, but sets out a procedure for schools to explore the option of adopting a “uniform dress code.”

 

A principal or a school community council can bring the idea forward and then the policy indicates there must be in-depth discussion about the idea among teachers, students and parents. After full consultation, 80 per cent of families must agree to the idea before a school can adopt a policy to have students wear uniforms.

 

The policy does not set out what type of uniform must be considered. While people often envision formal clothing like skirts or blazers, uniforms can also include “campus wear” like khakis and golf shirts. The options would be worked out by the school community.

 

At the same meeting, the board also passed two separate policies outlining expectations for staff and student dress. In both cases, the policies formalize rules that are in place at the school level and essentially outline what type of clothing is not appropriate, like beach wear or exposed undergarments.

 

All three policies passed on June 19 state that Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools “strives to create conditions where everyone feels valued, safe, and has a sense of belonging.” Work to develop the policies began in Spring of 2004 when the Board of Education identified Student and Staff Dress as one it priority ends statements for the term 2004-2006.  

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Holy Family English Program Relocates

Holy Family English program moving to St. Volodymyr School this fall

Holy Family English Program Relocates

After an extensive consultation process, board trustees for Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools voted recently to relocate the English language program at Holy Family School in Sutherland to a neighbouring Catholic school in fall 2006.

St. Volodymyr School in Forest Grove will be the new home for the approximately 80 students who were expected to enroll at Holy Family in fall 2006. This decision was made after consulting with the parent community of the Holy Family English program. The division will provide transportation for the affected students.

 

The St. Nicholas Ukrainian-English Bilingual Program, which is also located in the Holy Family facility, will not move. That program has approximately 150 students who are drawn from all over the city.

 

Consultations about the English program at Holy Family began last fall when meetings were held with parents and staff to discuss enrolment trends at the school and options for the future. Senior division staff also did personal telephone surveys with almost all of the families in the English program.

 

Holy Family, which had 137 students in September 2001, had 87 students enrolled in September 2005. The school population of school-age children in the area is not expected increase in the coming years. If the school had remained open, students would have been grouped in triple-grade classrooms, which raised concerns for board members. Maintaining excellence in programming is one of the key principles the board of education considers when considering the location of a school or program.

 

“Our board has made a commitment to see that all students are in a setting that is the best we can provide for them,” said board chair Jim Carriere. “Our decision, though a difficult one to make, means these children will continue to receive a first-rate Catholic education.”

 

The six teachers from the English program at the school are being reassigned within the division. 

Holy Family School served families

in the Sutherland area for decades

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Budget Keeps Resources in Classrooms

Budget Keeps Resources in Classrooms

School board’s 2006 operating budget

sees more money for schools

On May 2, the Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools Board of Education approved the division’s 2006 operating budget and set the 2006 mill rate.

 

The operating budget approved keeps resources in the classroom where students will benefit most. “As we work with all of our partners, our goal as a board is to deliver a top-quality Catholic education for our students in the most efficient and effective manner possible,” said Board Chair Jim Carriere. 

 

This spring, as the budget was developed, the school board received a significant boost from the provincial government, which made long-awaited changes to student funding rates. Urban school boards in Regina and Saskatoon now receive the same basic rate per student as all other provincial school divisions. This was especially satisfying for our division, as urban boards had pressed their case with the provincial government for several years. This change means an additional $1.3 million of revenue for Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools in 2006.

 

The division’s $70,305,906 operating budget will see individual schools receive a six per cent increase in their on-site budgets. As well, the overall budget sees the board planning responsibly for construction costs of the long-awaited Bethlehem Catholic High School by putting nearly $700,000 into capital reserves.

 

In order to fund these priorities, the board has chosen to increase the property tax mill rate by 2.8 per cent.  While normally this would mean an increase of almost $30 on the tax bill for a $100,000 home in Saskatoon, the increase will be offset by the provincial government’s Education Property Tax Credit. With the rebate, the 2006 education property taxes on that same $100,000 home will decrease by $55.

 

This is the first budget passed since amalgamation occurred on Jan. 1, 2006. The Greater Saskatoon Catholic division now includes the Catholic school divisions that previously operated separately in Saskatoon, Humboldt, Biggar and Viscount. As well, new Catholic divisions were formed last fall in rural areas just outside of Saskatoon and they too are part of Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools.

 

The board also approved mill rates for the additional communities it now represents. In Biggar, the mill rate will decrease seven per cent and in Humboldt it will drop five per cent. In Viscount, the mill rate will increase by 10 per cent. In Aberdeen and Clavet, the rate is unchanged. These changes are occurring as the provincial government has mandated that mill rates within amalgamated school divisions become uniform within three years.

 

It is also important to note that the operating budget approved by the board covers the period from Jan. 1, 2006 to Aug. 31, 2006.  A new fiscal year will begin on Sept. 1, 2006 and run until the end of August 2007. Changing the fiscal year to run from September to August better reflects the operating year for school divisions and was recently mandated by Saskatchewan Learning. The Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools board will pass a new operating budget in September for this new 2006-2007 fiscal year. 

 

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