Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 17, 1999
ACSTA opposes sharing schools
Trustees determined to preserve Catholic identity
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
The Alberta Catholic School Trustees' Association will "refuse" to share facilities with other school systems, says the association's president.
"To have one facility shared by two different philosophies in education is absolutely inappropriate," said ACSTA president Lois Burke-Gaffney of Calgary.
"(When) you have two opposite philosophies (sharing one building) you get into squabbling over who is going to use what when."
Separate schools require that religious symbols be "very visible" throughout the school and often use gymnasiums for liturgical services. "You get two different administrations bickering over that kind of thing, it simply doesn't work," Burke-Gaffney said.
"You can't have two different philosophies operating in the same building."
The Edmonton Catholic school board recently rejected a proposal to share a building with the public board in the Twins Brooks area because Catholic and public students would have had too many common areas in the proposed joint multi-use facility.
Areas such as the gymnasium, library and staff lounge would have been shared by the Catholic and public school.
"Our position has been quite clear that we are quite willing to share facilities that house the health unit or social services unit or some department of justice (offices) or indeed recreation facilities," Burke-Gaffney said.
But she said sharing other areas is out of the question.
"We will refuse to share facilities with another (education system) because you have two opposing education philosophies, one that is based in Gospel teaching and one that is not. It's an irreconcilable dichotomy."
By sharing a building with an opposing philosophy, Catholics may "get squeezed because we are supposedly imposing what we believe on everybody else. You get unnecessary bickering."
ACSTA vice-president Brian Mitchell of Edmonton said the danger of sharing facilities is that the aspects that make up Catholic education may be diluted or eliminated over time.
Experience has shown religious symbols are the first casualties. "And once the religious symbols go, that permeation (of Catholic education by Gospel values) also goes with it," Mitchell said.
Sharing facilities may also lead Catholics to neglect their own faith.
"If you put two staff groups (public and Catholic) in the same staff room, the Catholics don't want to impose their religion on the others," Mitchell noted.
"But unfortunately in that process of not wanting to impose it on others they end up not practising it themselves the way they would if they were functioning in their own facility."