Inside this Issue:

Ontario’s First Online School Board Elections Resource

The Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association and the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association along with L’Association des conseils scolaires des ecoles publiques de l’Ontario and L’Association franco-ontarienne des conseils scolaires catholiques – have come together to create a unique new online resource to raise the public’s awareness of the role of school board trustees and the candidates interested in fulfilling this role in all 72 school boards across the province.

The unique website allows visitors to easily access information about trustee candidates based on where they live and what school board they support.

Also included on the website  http://elections.ontarioschooltrustees.org is the following:

  • Information on school boards and the public education system in Ontario
  • Backgrounders on trustee responsibilities, becoming a trustee, time commitments, election finances, key dates and candidate FAQs
  • Details on why, how, when and where to vote
  • Downloadable guides on Running for School Board Trustee or Hosting an All Candidates Meeting

The 2014 municipal election will be held on October 27, 20124.

For more information, please contact Sharon McMillan, Co-ordinator, Communications and Media Relations – (416) 932-9460, ext. 232.

Legislative News

  • The Legislative Assembly of Ontario resumes on October 20, 2014
  • September 4th news release from the Ministry of Education announces a $150 million technology and learning fund to support students. School boards will be notified later this fall about their specific technology and learning fund allotment for the 2014-15 academic year.

Short Video Contest for Students in Catholic Schools

2013 Video Contest Finalist,  “Social Justice at Notre Dame High School”, Niagara Catholic District School Board

As part of the ongoing Faith in Our Future campaign, OCSTA will once again be hosting a short video contest for students in grades 4 – 12 at Ontario’s publicly funded Catholic schools.

The theme for this fall contest is:

“Experiencing Advent in Catholic Schools”

While Christmas is a time of great celebration in the Catholic community and other communities around the world, the period immediately before Christmas that we call Advent is an important time for prayer, preparation and an appreciation for the significance of our Saviour’s birth.

The fall 2014 Faith in our Future contest invites all students from grades 4-12 in Ontario’s publicly funded Catholic schools to submit a 2-minute video about the meaning of Advent from the perspective of students, or groups/classes in Catholic schools.

The submission deadline is November 21st, 2014.

Submissions Guidelines and Forms

Students and staff are encouraged to read the guidelines which are located on the Faith in Our Future website at: http://www.faithinourfuture.ca/student-video/video-contest-rules/.

Submission forms can be downloaded from the website at http://www.faithinourfuture.ca/student-video/.

More Exposure for All Submissions This Year!

Each time these contests are held, the Association is so appreciative of the outstanding effort and creativity that goes into every entry.  For that reason we are pleased to announce that this year ALL submissions about Advent that meed video guidelines, will be shared with Catholic schools and organizations across the province throughout the month of December!

The videos will be placed on OCSTA’s publicly accessible YouTube Channel so that as many people as possible will be able to benefit from the messages about Advent that will be articulated by Catholic school students participating in this event.  OCSTA’s video channel address is http://www.youtube.com/OCSTAVideo1.

Prizes

First place: $200 Best Buy Gift Certificate

Second place: $150 Best Buy Gift Certificate

Third place: $100 Indigo Gift Certificate.

The winners will be announced at OCSTA’s annual Catholic Trustees’ Professional Development Seminar on January 16, 2015 in Toronto.

For more information, please contact Sharon McMillan, Co-ordinator, Communications and Media Relations at (416) 932-9460 / smcmillan [at] ocsta.on.ca.

OCSTA in the News

OCSTA president, Kathy Burtnik’s response to an article in the Globe and Mail regarding the issue of religious education course exemptions was published on August 15, 2014:

About that exemption

A correction is needed to ensure that your audience has the right information about religious education and exemptions in Catholic schools (Religion Should Be An Elective Course – Aug. 13).

Section 42(13) of the Education Act sets out the relevant exemption for programs or courses of study in religious education. The exemption applies only to students, as defined under the Education Act, who “are qualified to be resident pupils in respect of a secondary school operated by a public board who attend a secondary school operated by a Roman Catholic Board.”

The provisions in the Education Act permitting exemption from programs or courses of study in religious education were put in place after 1984, when the province decided to extend public funding to Catholic high schools. The exemption was not intended to apply to all students, but only those students who qualified for exemption.

We take seriously our role in contributing to the formation of responsible, well-rounded citizens.

Kathy Burtnik, president, Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association

Toronto Star ‘back-to-school’ feature regarding non-Catholic parents choosing Catholic schools:

Ontario’s Catholic elementary schools are quietly opening their doors to students of all faiths, blurring the lines even more between the Catholic and public systems and raising questions about the roles — and need — for both.

Windsor’s Catholic school board became the latest to admit non-Catholics into grade schools in June — discreetly. It warned principals to discuss the new policy “with caution.” Some 82 non-Catholic children already have signed up, good news for a board that has been losing some 500 students a year.

“It’s about having choice in education,” said an elated Karen Fyall, a mother in Kingsville, south of Windsor, whose daughter Skylar will start Grade 6 next week at her local Catholic school under the new policy. She had been denied for two years because she’s not Catholic.

“I don’t want to knock down public schools, but the one thing that’s missing is that spiritual background, the religious tools that help you manage situations in life,” said Fyall, who had to agree her daughter will take part in all religious teaching, something she welcomes.

Read more

Toronto Star feature on the content and focus of religious education courses in Catholic schools:

It’s the heart of Ontario’s historic Catholic school system, the subject all elementary students must take but one non-Catholics can opt out of in high school.

The religion curriculum marks the difference between Catholic and public schools. But is it Bible study? Morality chats?

“The running theme throughout all four years of high school is to see how faith connects with your relationships, your community, your role in society,” said Brian O’Sullivan, director of Catholic education for the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association.

There is a focus on social justice issues raised by the Vatican as well as Canadian bishops, from labour rights and poverty to human rights and aid work, he said. “It focuses on service to others, but based on biblical stories that add a dimension that public schools don’t have.

Read more

The Catholic Register interviewed OCSTA president, Kathy Burtnik regarding the upcoming municipal elections:

“Every day there are more and more people putting their names forward so I think by the time nominations close we might see a different landscape as far as numbers of interested folks,” said Kathy Burtnik, president of OCSTA. “As of right now there are a number that are running uncontested but in my history on the last day of nominations that changes dramatically. I don’t know what motivates folks to put their names in last minute but it is always a good sign.”

Those interested in running for the position have until Sept. 12 to put their name forward. Ballots will be cast across the province on Oct. 27.

Burtnik, chair of the Niagara Catholic District School Board, will be running again this year.

As an active trustee and voting citizen, Burtnik said there are pros and cons of an uncontested candidate. From the candidate’s vantage point being acclaimed is a sign you are doing your job right, she said.

“It is a nice thing to be uncontested,” she said. “It is a sign of validation. People like to say that it is a lack of interest but I would say that it is a validation of support for the candidate and the work that they’ve done.”

But as good as it feels for a trustee to go unopposed, it can have a negative effect on the level of engagement of local voters.

“It leads to a sense of disinterest if you don’t have to go online and research who the best candidate might be,” she said.

Burtnik encourages those considering a run at office to register before the deadline.

“It is a remarkable experience,” she said. “I would encourage everybody to live at least one term as a trustee to see the good works that come of that.”

CBC To Hold Writing Challenge for Youth in October – $1000 Cash Prize

CBC’s Canada Writes is teaming up with the Canada Council for the Arts and CBC’s Ideas with Paul Kennedy to hold a writing challenge with a $1000 cash prize.

The challenge has a youth category (ages 12-18), and involves writing a personal true story of 400-500 words on the subject of “belonging.”

The challenge will be open from October 6 to November 3, 2014.

Full details of the challenge will be available on September 19 at cbc.ca/canadawrites. If teachers are interested in participating with their students and need more information, they may contact Jennifer Warren (jennifer.warren@cbc.ca) for more details.

PanAm Invites Trustees and Staff to Volunteer

In the summer of 2015, communities across Southern Ontario will be hosting some of the world’s best athletes at the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games – and they would like Catholic school board communities to know that they have many opportunities for those interested in volunteering at this international event.

The TORONTO 2015 Games will be the largest international multi-sport event ever held in Canada, with 41 countries and territories and more than 10,000 athletes and officials in 51 different sports.

Apply now to be a volunteer!

Behind-the-scenes of TORONTO 2015 will be 20,000+ volunteers. Volunteers are considered to be the backbone and the ambassadors for the 2015 Games.

If interested, you are encouraged to submit your application here: toronto2015.org/volunteer .

To help TORONTO 2015 recognize members of Ontario’s Catholic District School Boards in the application system, please:

  • Use the volunteer code VOLEDUCDSB

Questions about the TORONTO 2015 Games?

You can also learn more about the Games by visiting TORONTO2015.org.

If you have questions about your volunteer application, please contact the TORONTO 2015 Contact Centre.

Across the Board

Liz-Sandals-400x300

Minister Sandals makes a major announcement at the Halton Catholic District School Board

A student recounts and unforgettable experience and distinctive aspect of her Catholic education (from Hamilton-Wentworth CDSB)

 If you’d like to have your Catholic board/school featured in the “Across the Board” section, please contact Sharon McMillan, OCSTA Co-ordinator, Communications and Media Relations at smcmillan[at]ocsta.on.ca.