November 25, 2013

Re: Cindy Olsen’s letter to the editor (WCR, Nov. 11).

It seems the majority of our board wishes to believe all is well with the Catholic identity of our schools without evaluating it. How can they be so sure all is well if they haven’t evaluated it?

Having a symposium on Catholic education was one way to do this as a school district. By moving it off to ACSTA, the board chose to remove itself from this evaluation.

I have no issue with professional development opportunities – they are absolutely necessary if we are to grow professionally and spiritually.

My issue is that the $60,000 for an in-service at Jasper Park Lodge (88 principals + seven trustees + 10 administrative staff x $625) which does not include travel expenses and park entry fees, could be better spent in the classroom where it is desperately needed.

I know from speaking with the former chair of the ECSD board prior to the 2010 election and others within ECSD since, that the location of this Leadership Academy has been controversial for many years.

It is time that the board move the Leadership Academy to a retreat centre in Edmonton so participants can return home to their families in the evenings and save the district many dollars that can be better used elsewhere.

It is interesting that Olsen claims that sabbaticals to Newman are not fiscally possible but the district is spending $800,000 this year on professional development for all its teachers on 21st Century Fluencies – professional development about which many teachers have told me they were not consulted and feel they do not need.

We need to determine our priorities as a Catholic school district. Currently, four trustees wish to follow the lead of the administration and three trustees wish to govern our district by setting priorities as we were elected to do.

Patricia Grell
Trustee, Ward 71
Edmonton Catholic Schools