Voters have an opportunity in next month’s election to vote for new trustees who can help refocus and reinvigorate the Edmonton Catholic school board, says John Acheson, outgoing trustee for Ward 75.
Four of the board’s seven trustees are not seeking re-election, and Acheson said he hopes those who replace them will bring a new sense of purpose.
“We’ve got a chance now for people to come in and say, ‘No, we are the parents, and we speak for the parents, let’s take a fresh look at this,’ ” Acheson said.
“They are representing the parents and the parent community vis-a-vis the children’s education. That is such a critical, almost philosophical issue, because if it’s not the parents that are going to control education it’s going to be the state.”
Current board was embroiled in controversies
The current board has been embroiled in a number of public battles, including one centred around a 7-year-old transgender child.
Her mother wanted the girl to be able to use the washroom of the gender her child identifies with.
The majority of trustees took the position that the girl could use a washroom specifically set aside for transgender students.
That debate, at times, devolved into name-calling among trustees.
The board was also divided on the issue of extending the contract of Edmonton Catholic Schools superintendent Joan Carr, the highest paid superintendent in Alberta.
Her contract, worth $415,905 in salary and benefits, was extended to August 2018 in a close vote earlier this year.
At a board meeting in May, trustees Patricia Grell and Marilyn Bergstra were publicly taken to task by what the board called “their blatant disrespect for the decisions made by the board.”
The reprimand came after the two questioned a mandatory requirement that stipulates all graduating students must have nine credits in religious studies to be able to participate in commencement ceremonies.
Alberta Minister of Education David Eggen has expressed concerns about…