Welcome to May!
It’s hard to believe we’re already in the penultimate month of the 2015-2016 school year!
It’s been an outstanding year so far,and this month and next are shaping up to be awesome.
The month begins with Catholic Education Week, which takes place across Ontario May 1 – 6. This year’s theme is Opening Doors of Mercy. Niagara Catholic students and staff will be reading a special Catholic Education Week message in Mass services on the opening weekend, and we have many special events this week to celebrate the gift of Catholic education.
On May 1, celebrate 50 years of excellence in Catholic education at St. Martin Catholic Elementary School in Smithville. If you are a former student or staff member of St. Martin Catholic Elementary School, please join the current students and staff for this celebration.
On May 2, we will celebrate student excellence with the Catch the Spirit Student Awards of Excellence at Saint Michael Catholic High School. This award recognizes one student from each school who exemplify academic excellence, outstanding service to their school and community and Catholic faith. Congratulations to the students from our Catholic elementary schools, secondary schools and our recipient from the Continuing Education Centre.
Earth Day is Friday, April 22. Our students and staff will be out in their communities on Earth Day and throughout Earth Week participating in a variety of civic and schoolyard cleanup events. And don’t forget our Recycle Your Electronics event at the Catholic Education on April 18-22. If you have unwanted electronic items, drop them off in the large bin in front of the Catholic Education Centre at 427 Rice Road in Welland for safe disposal.
For the past year, Niagara Catholic staff and committed volunteers have been working on the first-ever Niagara Catholic Education Congress, which will focus on the topic of Catholic education in Niagara.
Our event at Blessed Trinity Catholic Secondary School took place in late April, and three more events are planned for Catholic Education Week: On May 3 at Denis Morris Catholic High School, on May 4 at Lakeshore Catholic High School, and on May 5 at Saint Michael Catholic High School. These events are open to all Catholic community stakeholders and are facilitated by Father Tom Rosica, CEO of Salt + Light Television. Register at bit.ly/congressRSVP.
This year-long conversation on Catholic education will continue throughout the year, and will culminate in a day-long event held during Catholic Education Week in 2017.
On May 4-5, Niagara Catholic will hold the annual Inspiring Thinkers Conference. Day One focuses on Numeracy, and Day 2 focuses on Literacy. This event, held at Brock University, brings together senior students from our eight Catholic secondary schools who are involved in math and Writer’s Craft classes.
On May 6, Niagara Catholic will turn its attention to celebrating alumni with our annual Distinguished Alumni Luncheon at the Catholic Education Centre. Now in its fourth year, the Distinguished Alumni Awards recognizes graduates of one of our Catholic high schools who are notable in their field and whose lives exemplify the Catholic Graduate Expectations. A media release announcing our nine 2016 recipients is available here. Congratulations to our recipients, and we look forward to celebrating with you.
That concludes Catholic Education Week activities in our schools. For a list of events and activities in your child’s school, or click here for our full list of Catholic Education Week events. Please check our Good News section of this website and our Facebook page for photos from these events.
On May 7, come out and enjoy storytime in the great outdoors with the Board’s first-ever Storywalk, which will take place at Heartland Forest in Niagara Falls from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. This is a free event for families. In addition to reading Paul Showers’ The Listening Walk as you walk through the fully-accessible trail, there will be wagon rides, sing-a-long and bonfire. Pack a picnic and plan to spend the day!
On May 12, our Student Leadership Symposium will take place at Club Roma. During this event, our 2016-2017 Student Senate Co-Chairs and Student Trustees will be elected by their peers.
May 19 is a very exciting day at Niagara Catholic. In the morning, the 2,000 students in our Class of 2016 will come together for a special Graduation Celebration at the Gale Centre in Niagara Falls. This is an annual tradition at Niagara Catholic, one of the signature events in our school year and is certainly a highlight of students’ years at Niagara Catholic. This year’s guest speaker is Marcel LeJeune, one of the sought-after Catholic speakers for youth in North America. Mr. LeJeune will bring his dynamic message to members of Catholic School Councils during the annual Partners in Catholic Education event that evening.
The mission of the Diocese of St. Catharines is founded in the mission of Jesus Christ. In the Gospel of St. John, Jesus states that He came down from heaven, "not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me." (Jn6:38) Jesus' mission is doing the will of his Father. This is the will of the Father, "that all who see the Son and believe in him will have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day". (Jn 6:40)
The Diocese of St. Catharines' mission is rooted in doing the Father's will by proclaiming His son to the world so that all can know, love and serve Him. This mission is lived out on a daily basis in our parishes, schools and Catholic institutions. We find clergy, religious and laity committed to proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ by witnessing to His truth, justice, love and mercy. St. Catharines Diocese is where faith lives.
May 24, 2016
2016-2017 Meeting Dates Approved
During the May 24 Board Meeting, the Board approved the meeting dates for the 23016-2017 academic year.
The approved 2016-2017 School Year calendar, which includes meeting dates, is available here.
2016-2017 Annual Budget Approved
After months of working diligently to ensure Niagara Catholic’s cost structure is aligned with the Board’s estimated 2016-2017 Ministry revenue, on May 24, Trustees approved the 2016-2017 Annual Budget, which is balanced without the use of prior year surplus funds.
The 2016-2017 Annual Budget is set at $254,053,854, an increase of $211,000 over 2015-2016.
In March, the Ministry of Education announced funding for the 2016-2017 school year. This includes a 1.25 per cent increase for salaries, a result of the central labour agreements within the province.
Keeping this, an estimated decline in enrollment of 426 students for 2016-2017, and the two per cent benchmark for School Operations Allocation in mind, Senior Administrative Council presented a budget which addresses these issues and accomplishes the expectations of the Vision 2020 Strategic Plan.
The Report on the 2016-2017 Balanced Board Budget is available in the May 24 Board Meeting agenda. The complete 2016-2017 Budget Book will be made available online shortly.
Board Supports Niagara Catholic Athletic Association
During the May 24 Board Meeting, Trustees endorsed a report presented by Superintendent of Education Mark Lefebvre, and Niagara Catholic Health and Physical Education, Science and Social Science Consultant Mike Sheahan which would see Niagara Catholic form its own Athletic Association.
Currently, Niagara Catholic’s eight Catholic high schools compete against schools from the District School Board of Niagara, French Public and Catholic schools, private schools and independent schools under the auspices of the Niagara Regional High Schools Athletic Association (NRHSAA), which is a part of the Ontario Secondary School Athletics Association (OFSAA).
This arrangement has proven to be challenging to Niagara Catholic schools (and student-athletes) for a variety of reasons, including being in a minority when voting on constitutional issues, the implementation of a tier system for sports (especially football) which prohibits our students from experiencing a true athletic experience and the way in which OFSAA’s transfer rules for eligibility.
A Niagara Catholic Athletic Association would be similar in scope to the way other Catholic boards in Ontario have set up their athletic programs; in particular, boards like Hamilton Catholic, London Catholic and Waterloo Catholic. If approved at the Niagara Regional level, Niagara Catholic schools would compete against each other in league play for team sports, and enter back into Zone 3 (South Niagara) and Zone 4 (North Niagara) for SOSSA (Southern Ontario Secondary Schools Association) qualification.
If approved by the NRHSAA, individual or single athlete sports such as Cross Country or Track and Field from Niagara Catholic schools would continue to compete in the current Zone structure.
The move to create a new Niagara Catholic Athletics Association (NCAA) is targeted for the 2016-2017 school year. Read the complete report here.
Trustees Approve Final Long Term Accommodation Report
At the April 26 Board Meeting, Trustees approved the third phase of the Board’s Long-Range Accommodations Plan for Niagara Catholic’s 57 Catholic elementary and secondary schools. This phase focused on potential boundary changes, closings, amalgamations and potential space-sharing with outside agencies.
During the May 10 Committee of the whole Meeting, Trustees reviewed the complete Long-Term Accommodations Plan, which included a number of updates. Among the options being discussed is examining the potential of a joint venture with the French Catholic District School Board to build a new joint-use Catholic elementary school in downtown St. Catharines that would be occupied by St. Nicholas Catholic Elementary School and Ecole Immaculee Conception.
Following that meeting, copies of the Long Term Accommodation Plan were provided to all administrators, Catholic School Council Chairs, the Chairs of Niagara Catholic’s SEAC Committee and Niagara Catholic Parent Involvement Council, Alliance Committee, Mayors and municipalities throughout Niagara.
During the May 24 Board Meeting, Trustees endorsed all three phases of Niagara Catholic’s Long Term Accommodation Plan. All information, agendas and minutes related to Long Term Accommodation Planning will be posted on the Board website. Read the approved report here.
During the May 24 Board Whole Meeting, Trustees approved two updated policies.
Reimbursement of Travel Expenses Policy (201.4) and Establishment and Cyclical Review of Policies Policy (100.5) were updated following a vetting process. A third policy – Access to Board Premises – Safe Schools Policy (302.6.3) – was sent back to Policy Committee for further review. The Board regularly reviews policies to ensure that they continue to comply with Ministry of Education requirements and meet the needs of the system.
Catch Up With Our Good News!
If you haven’t checked out our Good News section in a while, be sure to take a look at some of the great stories we shared in throughout May, including our Graduation Celebration, Student Leadership Sympoisum and our Specialist High Skills Major students gaining valuable experience at Hollo Maple Farms.
To ensure you stay connected with Niagara Catholic news and events, please be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and check our website often for updates and breaking news. It’s the best way to stay in the know. There is also still a couple of weeks to register your child for one of our Niagara Catholic Summer Camps. To find out more or to complete a registration form, click here.
The Niagara Catholic District School Board, through the charisms of faith, social justice, support and leadership, nurtures an enriching Catholic learning community for all to reach their full potential and become living witnesses of Christ.