Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 29, 1999
Trustees reluctantly agree to help fund new districts
By ANH HOANG
WCR Staff Writer
Alberta Catholic school trustees stood together against shared facilities, but fell apart when it came to providing financial support for groups who want to set up new Catholic school districts.
A resolution calling on the Alberta Catholic School Trustees' Association to provide financial assistance to parents seeking to form Catholic school districts was simple and a shoo-in. Or so thought Dave Caron and his fellow trustees from the Greater St. Albert Catholic Regional District, who initiated it.
But the resolution, which eventually passed with a narrow 51 per cent, fueled a debate in the otherwise placid general meeting of the ACSTA convention, Nov. 19-21.
Linda Blasetti of Calgary said she was concerned the resolution may have financial implications for the association.
She was also concerned the formation of a Catholic district may prove fiscally unfeasible in areas where student numbers would not warrant a full-fledged district.
Trustee Chris Spearman of Holy Spirit School District also shared Blasetti's financial concerns.
"We would have to determine who we would fund and who we wouldn't," Spearman said. "It doesn't give me the assurance I need of how to adequately finance the formation. . . . There's no limit to the financial assistance."
But Caron and his supporters insisted the "financial side is a nominal impact."
Any financial support given would be optional and minimal, he said.
He added the support for parents in such a formation process meets the goals of all Catholic school districts, who strive to "provide Catholic education for all Catholic families wherever they live."
Guest speaker Father Michael Duggan spoke on issues of poverty and justice during the three day convention. Education Minister Lyle Oberg also made an appearance for a question and answer period.
ACSTA President Lois Burke-Gaffney highlighted a Nov. 6 meeting where school trustees from across the province voted unanimously to oppose building shared facilities with public school districts - even though some Catholic districts are building such facilities.
The topic has been a hot one in Edmonton where a proposal for a shared school facility between the Catholic and public school districts in the Twin Brooks area was strongly opposed by Edmonton Catholic Schools.
"We have come to a firm agreement that this is what we want," Burke-Gaffney said.
The convention closed with the re-election of Burke-Gaffney of Calgary as association president and Myron Ganser of the East Central district as vice-president.