Calling it time of new beginnings, re-elected Chairperson Patrick Daly, in his Inaugural Address at the December 4th Inaugural Meeting of the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board, likened the first meeting of the new Board to Advent.
“It recalls for me the season of Advent as one of expectant hope and our coming together as one of New Beginning.”
In addition to the new Board of Trustees, Daly pointed to the HWCDSB’s new by-laws and committee structure, 2019-2022 Multi-Year Strategic Plan and the Ministry of Education’s 2019-2020 Funding Engagement Guide as further signs of new beginnings. Explaining that the first two will enable the Board to focus “on those issues which are of real priority at this moment in the history of Catholic Education,” he added that the funding consultation “heralds, if not a new beginning, a new or different approach to the manner in which school boards are funded.”
Citing it as an opportunity to review existing programs and services, especially those provided by the board on a discretionary basis, Daly cautioned that “while showing a willingness to be creative and open to change, we must be absolute in our commitment to protect those programs/services that are core to the mission of Catholic Education.”
In the spirit of new beginnings, Daly proposed four areas of priority for the next term of office: Catholic identity; stewardship; well-being of staff; and Catholic Christian community.
On the topic of Catholic identity, he added that more than ever, it is vital for Catholic schools “to live and promote their distinct Catholic identity.” It’s an identity that has been built on excellence/fullness of humanity, “a promise made to all students.” That promise requires additional resources for some students and schools, he said, citing programs like Special Education, Wilma’s Place, St. Martin’s Manor and the Equal Opportunities Initiative.
“It will continue to be important to provide equitable distribution of resources and, where necessary, make wise use of appropriated surplus to support this fundamental part of who we are as a Catholic school system.”
Daly further stressed the importance of religious education and faith formation. He recommended that the newly formed Religion, Family Life and Faith Formation Committee conduct a review of the “Living with Faith” document to ensure that the board is providing the necessary resources and most effective strategies to support these fundamental programs.
On the topic of stewardship, he commended the sound decision making of former trustees and the wise counsel of the senior administration for ensuring that the board remain on a strong financial foundation. One priority area he identified was the urgent need to review and realign secondary school boundaries. He asked the board to commence an immediate review of secondary school boundaries with a report back date of the end of the current school year.
“In order to make the most efficient use of secondary facilities, I suggest imagining a system with no boundaries and in light of the location of our buildings, determine where they should be,” he said. He also indicated that consideration will be given in the near future to the expansion of French Immersion locations.
Citing the third priority area, well-being, Daly noted that there is a real need to explore strategies and provide additional resources in support of a collective effort to promote the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of staff. It is not only the board’s responsibility to do so, but is essential to the nurturing and strengthening of Catholic Christian community, he added.
In final comments, the chairperson thanked Bishop Crosby, his fellow trustees, Director of Education David Hansen, Associate Director of Corporate Services Paola Pace-Gubekjian, members of Senior Administration, parish staff, principals/vice-principals, teachers, school and support staff, parents and students for helping the board to realize its mission.
“I close praying that our decisions this year and over the next four contribute to each and every young person in our system,” he said.