Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 11, 2002
Edmonton board lays out shared facilities policy
By RENATO GANDIA
WCR Staff Writer
Edmonton Catholic School district is willing to share a multi-use campus with a public school, only if there is a third party in a middle section that separates the two schools.
Examples of third parties they find acceptable would be Capital Health Authority, YMCA, Parks and Recreation, Alberta College, NAIT and Grant MacEwan College and the like, the school board decided at a Nov. 4 meeting.
"Our basic position is that we support multi-use facilities that do not compromise our ability to offer faith-based education that permeates all aspects of teaching and learning at our school," said board chair, Charlie Koester.
The school board remains opposed to public and Catholic schools sharing common educational facilities or being located in the same building with a dividing wall between public and Catholic schools.
In September, the Alberta bishops stated their opposition to shared facilities for public and Catholic schools. They said such setups undermine Catholic education and are unacceptable to the Catholic community.
Attaching a Catholic school to a community facility such as a sports arena, health facility or library would be acceptable to the Edmonton board.
A multi-use campus, where a community facility is connected on either side by a public and a Catholic school, would also be acceptable provided the middle party is agreeable to both boards.
The school board also demands that both schools offer the same grade level programming and that there be no sharing of educational space.
The difference between sharing facilities with the public school and sharing facilities with another institution is that with the latter they only share the roof and not educational facilities.
"We feel that our faith as Catholics has to permeate with what we do all day," Koester told the WCR.
"We live it, breathe it, feel it, see it. If we're sharing common educational space, we don't feel that we have that opportunity."
With a community facility, the Catholic school would not share educational space.
To illustrate this, Koester pointed, "For example, if we're sharing the building with the YMCA, its facilities will enhance the education of students, because they have a swimming pool and other facilities that we would not normally put into a school facility."
One example of this set-up is Holy Trinity High School which is attached to Millwoods Recreation Centre.
Students at Holy Trinity can access the community pool, skating rink, racquetball court and other facilities that might not be part of a school facility.
"That in our mind enhances the education of students," emphasized Koester.
In Catholic schools, classrooms and common areas like cafeterias, libraries, labs, gyms, etc. are consecrated spaces. They are special places where prayer and faith celebrations are an integral part of school life.
Banners and images that allow students and teachers to reflect on the liturgical seasons like Advent and Lent are displayed in the halls of Catholic schools.
"The Christian images and icons present in these facilities are not there simply as decoration, but to remind our students of our call to reflect and act in all circumstances in accordance to the question, 'What would Jesus do?'" explained Koester.
The purpose of this is not to segregate students from society, the chair said.
"Our objective is to use this environment and this time in our students' lives to help them experience and learn ways to integrate their faith into every aspect of their lives."