Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools’ (GSCS) Board of Education held its annual organizational meeting, on November 6, at which Diane Boyko was re-elected chair of the board.
Trustee Wayne Stus, who represents rural areas around Saskatoon and the cities of Martensville and Warman, was elected vice-chair for the third consecutive year. Continue reading “Boyko re-elected as Catholic board chair”→
The sweet sounds of children’s choirs marked the official grand opening of two new elementary schools in Warman on Monday, September 18.
Provincial Education Minister Bronwyn Eyre, Traditions Elementary School Principal Scott Dyck, and Holy Trinity Catholic School Principal Ed Brockman, with the help of two students from each school, unveiled twin plaques at a ceremony in the large gymnasium shared by both schools.
Hundreds of students assembled in the gym for the history-making occasion.
Martensville-Warman MLA Nancy Heppner told the assembly the spacious new facility marks a big change from the crowded classrooms that students in Warman experienced a decade ago.
“Warman is growing very quickly,” said Heppner. “And it’s important to manage that growth and provide positive learning spaces.” Continue reading “Traditions Elementary, Holy Trinity hold grand opening”→
Catholic school boards in Saskatchewan are appealing a recent court decision that pulls government funding for non-Catholic students attending Catholic schools.
The court decision, handed down April 20 by Justice J. Layh in Queen’s Bench Court in Yorkton, has province-wide implications for school enrollment and provincial funding.
The decision to appeal was unanimously endorsed by all eight Catholic school boards in Saskatchewan, according to Tom Fortosky, a past president of the Saskatchewan Catholic School Boards Association (SCSBA).
At a news conference in Saskatoon on Friday, April 28, Fortosky said the legal team representing the SCSBA is confident the appeal, slated to be launched by May 20, will be successful.
Fortosky said it is difficult to estimate how many non-Catholic students are currently enrolled in Catholic schools across the province.
“It all depends on how you define who is a Catholic,” said Fortosky. “The judge in the Theodore case very narrowly defined Catholic as someone who has a Catholic baptismal certificate.
“But you need to know that the Catholic church actually recognizes baptismal certificates from other Christian denominations.
“Let’s face facts. We’re not naive to what families look like today. There are lots of blended families. There are families that have one Catholic parent and one non-Catholic parent. There are other families who choose not to baptize their children initially.
“What we are saying is we want to be a welcoming and inclusive community for all those who choose a faith-based education for their children.”
CASE BEGAN IN 2005
The original court case began in 2005 when the Good Spirit School Division (GSSD) filed a legal complaint against what is now Christ the Teacher Roman Catholic School Division and the Government of Saskatchewan. The GSSD alleged that the creation of the new school division after the closure of Theodore Public School in Theodore, near Yorkton, did not meet the criteria of being a separate school – serving Catholics who are the minority religion in the region. The GSSD challenged the legal status of the newly-formed Catholic School Division, stating it was created solely to prevent the local school from closing and children being bussed to a nearby town. The GSSD legal argument is that per-student grants paid to a Catholic school division for non-Catholic students is discriminatory against public schools under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Basically, it stated that non-Catholic students should not be able to attend a Catholic school.
The GSSD is not disputing the validity of accepting per-student funding for Catholic students attending public schools.
Since 2005, the court case has been broadened to challenge the constitutional rights of minority-faith separate school divisions in Saskatchewan.
GROUNDS FOR APPEAL
Fortosky said the SCSBA’s legal team believes there were “legal errors” in the judge’s ruling that the provincial government has to discriminate on the basis of religion in its allocation of funding.
“The constitutional provision in section 17(2) expressly prohibits any such discrimination,” said Fortosky.
“The legal team representing Christ the Teacher School Division in this case has carefully reviewed the trial judge’s lengthy decision, and we believe that there are several strong grounds for appeal,” he added. “At its essence, the constitution provides the Catholic minority with the right to operate a school system in accordance with Catholic values and beliefs.
“We believe that this includes the right to have an inclusive and welcoming admittance policy consistent with the church’s ecumenical efforts since the Second Vatican Council.
“This benefits the broader community as more parents have had the opportunity to exercise parental choice and choose a faith-based education for their children.”
NO CHANGE IN STORE
Diane Boyko, Chair of the Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools (GSCS), said the April 20 court ruling and the impending appeal will not affect the operations of the two Catholic Schools scheduled to open in Warman and Martensville in September.
“At this point, nothing has changed,” said Boyko in an interview following the news conference on April 28. “We will continue to welcome both Catholic and non-Catholic students to both schools in Warman and Martensville, and also the schools in Saskatoon, and provide them with a high-quality religious, spiritual education.”
Boyko said the appeal is intended to bolster parents’ choices when it comes to education for their children.
“We honour parents for making their choice to have students educated in the footsteps of Jesus Christ,” said Boyko. “We look forward to having our rationale for this appeal brought forward.”
Boyko said Catholic property owners are obliged by law to support the Catholic school division in their area. However, non-Catholics are obliged to have their property taxes go to public school divisions.
“However, you can still send your children to the Catholic system, even if you are non-Catholic,” said Boyko. “It’s a system that has worked well for everyone, especially now that general education funds are coming directly from the provincial Ministry of Education, and the funds follow the child. So the system right now, I think, is working just fine.”
Boyko noted that when a non-Catholic family decides to enroll their children in a Catholic school, they meet beforehand with the school administration and are fully informed about what that decision entails.
“People are making a conscious decision to have a religious, spiritual education for their children,” she said.