The Renfrew County Catholic District School Board has designed a budget for 2015–2016 that complies with the Ministry of Education’s focus on revenue reduction while maintaining its strategic plan to achieve excellence in education.
“The budget will put funds in areas where they are most needed, while strengthening efforts to provide our students with the best education possible in our Catholic school system,” said Board Chair Bob Michaud, also noting that the 2015–2016 budget is similar to last year’s. ( See the Full Board Chair Remarks)
The total budgeted expenditures for 2015-2016 are $62,331,780 of which $57,922,372 is funded from provincial grants and local taxation. A projected deficit of 0.9 percent will be covered by Board reserves.
As a faith-based education system, the Board will highlight the theme of the Holy Year of Mercy as declared by His Holiness, Pope Francis, Michaud said. As in previous years, students will raise funds for social justice projects such as the Dominican Republic Experience, the Child Poverty Action Network and many other local school-based activities to support the poor and less fortunate. The Board has budgeted for a new Religious Education program by Pearson Canada that emphasizes knowing and following Jesus, using stories from the Gospels and making regular connections to the life of the parish community and liturgical year. The program is accompanied by online modules providing teachers with background information and opportunities to deepen their faith through personal reflection, Michaud said.
“I’m extremely happy with our board’s full purchase of this program, and I believe it will greatly enrich the lives of our students, staff and parishes,” he added.
The Board has invested $500,000 in Wi-Fi and fiber optic services to complete a multi-year project that will provide internet coverage to all schools throughout the Board. With all Kindergarten classrooms renovated and the Early Years program fully operational this year, the Board now will invest $95,000 in mobile devices to expand 21st-century learning in our elementary schools.
The Board will also continue its Road to Independence program for Special Education students, offering learning opportunities for teachers and education assistants, as well as funding for special education resource teachers in the use of assistive technology.
The Board will make a significant capital investment of more than $3.0 million in school renewal, school condition improvements and capital priorities.
Four new classrooms at St. Francis of Assisi School in Petawawa will be completed for fall 2015 opening, in response to increased enrolment demands, Michaud said. Renovations at St. Andrew’s Elementary School in Killaloe will enhance safety and program supports for our newly consolidated student body.
Facilities for two new daycare programs, to be operated with community partners, will open at St. Thomas the Apostle School in Renfrew and St. Mary’s Catholic School in Deep River in the coming months. Renovations at St. Mary’s will include work on the front entrance.
Other renovations include a 21st-century learning commons to replace the present library at St. Joseph’s High School in Renfrew, and expansion of the music room at Bishop Smith High School in Pembroke. Plans are also underway to improve both high schools’ heating, ventilation and cooling systems, as well as track and field areas.
Replacement of windows is planned at St. Thomas the Apostle in Renfrew and Our Lady of Lourdes in Pembroke.
Constantly in search of new and innovative ways to engage students, the Board plans its first annual student symposium to focus on student engagement, belonging and team-building, Michaud said.
The Board also will continue to support at-risk students, further implementing the First Nation, Métis and Inuit Policy Framework, providing resources and adding to the strategies in place for First Nations/Métis/Inuit students to help close learning gaps.
Other areas of significant investment for the Board are professional learning and job-embedded collaborative learning for teachers, as well as job embedded learning for students.
Physical education and outdoor education programs are important aspects of school curriculum with $20,000 a year over the next five years committed to the Shaw Woods Outdoor Education Centre.
The Board also has targeted mathematics learning, by investing in differentiated instruction and technology to engage students. The Destination Imagination program is another tool to encourage 21st-century skills in creativity, critical thinking and collaboration, said Chair Michaud.
With the success of the Hockey Canada Skills Academy at St. Joseph’s High School in Renfrew, the Board will introduce the program at Bishop Smith this fall.
Chair Michaud added that the Board will continue to work closely with its Parent Involvement Committee in 2015–2016. “Parents are an important part of our school community. And in the coming year, we will build on the grassroots commitment of parents to encourage student engagement and achievement.”
June 29, 2015
For more information, please contact:Michele Arbour, Director of Education Renfrew County Catholic District School Board 499 Pembroke St. West Pembroke, Ontario K8A 5P1 Telephone: (613) 735-1031 Fax: (613) 735-2649