Below are some highlights from my latest community update, provided to all ward schools and parishes.
For the full update, please click on Easter 2014 newsletter.
Easter Season Reflection from Pope Francis, Easter Vigil Homily, 2013
“Jesus no longer belongs to the past, but lives in the present and is projected towards the future; he is the everlasting “today” of God. This is how the newness of God appears to the women, the disciples and all of us: as victory over sin, evil and death, over everything that crushes life and makes it seem less human. And this is a message meant for me and for you, dear sister, dear brother. How often does Love have to tell us: Why do you look for the living among the dead? Let the risen Jesus enter your life, welcome him as a friend, with trust: he is life! If up till now you have kept him at a distance, step forward. He will receive you with open arms. If you have been indifferent, take a risk: you won’t be disappointed. If following him seems difficult, don’t be afraid, trust him, be confident that he is close to you, he is with you and he will give you the peace you are looking for and the strength to live as he would have you do.”
3rd Annual Ward-Wide Leadership Meeting
12 schools, Catholic Parent Involvement Committee, and our parish partners were represented at this year’s annual ward-wide leadership meeting in January. Sr. Helen from Pauline Books & Media was on hand with great resources for children and adults. The evening began with Mass at Holy Rosary Church, followed by a roundtable talk focused on sharing ideas to strengthen and support the parent-school and school-parish relationship, and our downtown community of Catholic schools. Thank you to everyone who was able to attend and contribute to an important ongoing dialogue.
Advocacy & Initiatives since December, 2013 Newsletter
Since my election in December as Chair of the Board I have had the honour of representing the TCDSB in several forums, and the opportunity to advocate on behalf of our schools and students. Below are highlights of that work since December in both my roles at Chair of the Board and Trustee for Ward 9:
• Speaking with student leaders: In December I was invited by our Student Trustees to speak at the Fall General Meeting of the CSLIT Presidents’ Council on “Running Meaningful Student Council Elections”. I spoke about the importance of student leadership, and the student voice, for our board.
• Episcopal Meeting with Cardinal Collins: In January I attended the Annual Episcopal meeting, hosted by Cardinal Collins, to which Greater Toronto Area school board Chairs and Directors were invited.
• Advocating for Transportation Funding Equity: We are jointly advocating with the TDSB to the Ministry of Education regarding equitable transportation funding. The TCDSB and TDSB created a transportation consortium in 1995, and the result has been a savings of millions of dollars. However, given student needs, the TCDSB spends approximately $6 million more annually then we are funded. The Ministry has a program to assess consortiums and provide funding to underfunded boards that demonstrate their ability to offer student transportation services in an effective and efficient manner. Toronto was not selected for an assessment review so our funding levels have not changed.
• Catholic Lobby Day – Queen’s Park: On 2 April, I was one of four Catholic school board Chairs invited to participate in a day of advocacy with Toronto Members of Provincial Parliament (MPP). The day began with Mass celebrated by Cardinal Collins. Premier Kathleen Wynne, Conservative leader Tim Hudak, and Minister Sandals were in attendance along with members of the Catholic education community from across the province.
• Meeting with the Minister of Education: In my first meeting with Minister Sandals, our discussion focused on the need for partnership solutions to meet student needs where there are critical and chronic funding gaps (e.g. Special Education – we spend $20 million more than budgeted), the coming collective bargaining, and the lack of regular communication channels between the Ministry and Chairs which limits opportunities for advocacy. Since that meeting action has been taken on the final item with the first of what is expected to be regular teleconferences with Chairs across the province.
• Corporate Board Governance: In our ongoing effort to strengthen governance, a 1-hour refresher session for trustees and senior staff with parliamentarian Alasdair Robertson was provided in February. In addition, I met with the Vice Chair, the Chairs & Vice Chairs of the Standing Committee, the Director and our Associate Directors, to identify and implement practical ways to improve agenda management at our Board and Committee meetings.