Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 28, 2002
WCR Letters to the Editor
Speak out against joint facilities - HintonGerard Redmond Catholic School in Hinton has been dealing with an overcrowding issue for many years. The Klein government has spent over $1 million at Gerard Redmond to ensure Catholic education remains confined in a small space and in a desperate state.
According to Living Waters superintendent, Carol Lemay, the ministers of infrastructure and learning will not support a stand-alone facility for our students.
A number of months ago, Archbishop Thomas Collins was advised of our facility situation in Hinton. Our school council, pastor Father Brian Inglis, and an independent Catholic stakeholders group had grave concerns that the proposed "sharing" arrangement did not follow Alberta Catholic School Trustees' Association (ACSTA) protocol and covenant on "shared facilities."
The ACSTA document needs to be read by all school council and PAC members, parish councils and their affiliates and made available to the Catholic community at large. This document is available upon request.
On Monday Sept. 30, Archbishop Thomas Collins was in Hinton to tour the proposed site for a Catholic school and to speak to the Living Waters board of trustees and the Catholic community. The archbishop spoke about "shared facilities" and the recent pastoral letter that the bishops of Alberta have released (WCR, Sept. 16).
While in Hinton, the archbishop was taken on a tour to the public school site, Harry Collinge, where a proposed joint facility is to be built. The archbishop told Living Waters trustees that he has concerns with the proposed site as the site in question is quite small for another school to be built in the area.
The archbishop explained what a joint use facility is - "two schools separated by a large community-owned facility built between the schools."
On Monday, the archbishop called on all "Catholics to unite as one voice" in a stand against shared facilities as the only option available to Catholic schools boards. Catholic schools need their own schools in which to nurture the teachings of Christ.
Two million dollars is to be used for the modernization and upgrading of the already existing public CTS and gymnasium. The plan would be that the CTS lab and the gymnasium would be shared between the two school systems, through timetabling.
A percentage of Catholic students will be taught throughout the school day on the public side and public students will receive Catholic education on the Catholic side. The ACSTA protocol and covenant clearly states that instructional space cannot be shared.
Even with ironclad constitutional guarantees, Catholic education can be lost if the Catholic community allows it. Apathy on our part as Catholics will and does cause fragmentation in the Catholic community.
This fragmentation reaches far beyond Hinton.
The archbishop asked for the prayers of all Catholic school supporters. In accordance with Archbishop Collins and the bishops of Alberta, the Catholic communities are being called to stand firm with the directive, that states "shared facilities" are not acceptable to the Catholic communities of Alberta.
The sharing of facilities between a public school and Catholic school undermines both systems. One side mandates that Christ is not allowed in the hallways and the other makes him inclusive in every subject taught. Both the public and Catholic school systems have important roles independent of each other. These systems should not be glued or stuck together for mechanical convenience.
Research by the Canadian Catholic Schools Trustees' Association, July 2000, has proven that there are no cost savings with joint facilities.
In a combined effort of Catholic communities committed to Catholic education and in accordance to the archbishop, our school council is seeking the support of all Catholic school councils in sending a loud, clear and unified message to the provincial government in support of the bishops' stand concerning "shared facilities."
A strong message to the ministers of infrastructure and learning and the premier of Alberta, from school councils and Catholic communities, Knights of Columbus and Catholic Women's League councils across Alberta will certainly support the bishops as these discussions are continued at the provincial level.
Archbishop Collins has met with the ministers of infrastructure and learning on behalf of Catholic education in Alberta.
The bishops remain concerned with the pressures being placed on Catholic education and Catholic school boards across the province to enter into shared arrangements.
Alberta's Commission on Learning has recently released a workbook, Do Our Homework. On Page 29, question 22, point 12, the question reads: "Public and separate schools should share facilities in order to reduce costs of building new schools."
Circle 5 to indicate that you strongly disagree: This is our opportunity to speak out against joint facilities. Workbooks can be completed on line: www.learningcommission.gov.ab.ca.
For a printed copy dial 310-0000.
The deadline for this booklet is Dec. 6.
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