Frequently Asked Questions

In response to Thoughtexchange survey participant feedback from October 1-10, the following themes were important to participants:

  • Communication
  • Consultation/Public Engagement Process
  • Clarification on Policies, Procedures, and Proposal-Specific Questions
  • Benefits to students

In the FAQs below, we address questions and issues or concerns that were expressed by participants.

COMMUNICATION

Q1: How was this information shared with families and what if I did not receive it?

A: All updates are provided using student enrolment information of families in our division to determine a recipient list for email communications related to Faith in Our Future. On October 1, 2019, 5473 recipients received the email message sent about Faith In Our Future and 354 were blocked due to privacy settings or invalid email addresses. Therefore, in the rare event that an intended recipient was missed due to technical difficulties, parents are encouraged to check their individual email privacy settings and ensure any communication coming from Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools is marked as a safe sender. This will ensure messages come through your regular inbox and not a Spam folder. If you have not received the intended communication, please email communications@gsacrd.ab.ca

 

Q2: What was shared in the original communication?

A letter from the Board Chair (with a copy of the proposal) was sent by email to all parent and guardian contacts within Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools on the morning of October 1. This was following the Board’s resolution, at the Regular Meeting of the Board of September 30, to move forward with the public consultation plan. The subject line read: Important Update – Faith in Our Future.

The letter has also been posted publicly on the Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools website, along with all current opportunities for engagement. This is accessible at the following link: www.gsacrd.ab.ca/faithinourfuture.

 

Q3: How will information about Faith in Our Future be shared in the future?

Over the next several weeks and throughout the entire public consultation process, further email communication will be issued to all school communities and stakeholders with important reminders of opportunities for engagement. Frequently Asked Questions will be updated on the website based on consultation feedback. This is a list of dates and times for such ongoing communication:

  • October 11 - 4:00 p.m.
  • October 16 - 4:00 p.m.
  • October 23 - 4:00 p.m.

 

Q4: What is the rationalization for the consultation process?

A: The Board is required to revise its policies and procedures in accordance with the legislative (Education Act, September 1, 2019) requirements for transfer of students from one school building to another. 

 

Q5: Is this a done deal and if so, why am I being asked for my input?

A: No.  Further to the previous answer, prior to the implementation of the potential transfer of students and/or capital needs, the Board of Trustees has a duty to seek consultation based on legislation. Your continued input is extremely valuable in determining solution-focused outcomes of this proposal.

 

CONSULTATION/PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT PROCESS 

Q6: What opportunities are there for stakeholder and public input?

A: The Board is encouraging all community members to offer their feedback through the ThoughtExchange platform and to attend the first Open House on October 30 and any other engagement opportunities in the future. Information pertaining to the public consultation process is publicly available on the Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools website at www.gsacrd.ab.ca/faithinourfuture.

 

Q7: How will my input be used throughout this process?

A: Input provided through Thoughtexchange and the Open House (described in the previous response) will be gathered and provided to the Board for its consideration regarding the Faith In Our Future proposal. The Board will consider input to ensure the best for our students and staff.

 

Q8: How can we know whether others are in favour of or against the proposal?

A: Thoughtexchange is an online consultation tool used extensively by school jurisdictions in Canada and the United States to address a topic such as Faith in Our Future. It is designed to provide an open discussion platform so that prominent themes and interests can be determined.

 

Q9: Why can’t I see my comments on Thoughtexchange?

A: Thoughtexchange provides moderation services that review comments which meet certain criteria that are designed to:

  • protect the integrity of the consultation methodology;
  • respect the legislative rights of the participants involved; 
  • assure participants of a fair process so that participation rates can be optimized. 

 

Q10: What are the opportunities for parents to engage their Board of Trustees?

A: Members of the public are always encouraged to engage trustees in any matter of importance. Additionally, groups or individuals wishing to make formal presentations to the Board have a process to follow that is outlined in Delegations to Board Meetings Board Policy 7, Section 10.

 

CLARIFICATION ON POLICIES, PROCEDURES, AND PROPOSAL-SPECIFIC QUESTIONS

Q11: What is the objective of the proposal with respect to impacting particular school communities and how will the proposal reflect feedback from each phase of the consultation process?

A: The goal of this proposal is to gain feedback on our capital planning and programming needs  for the future. We must be able to address all student needs with the spaces that we have available. As the consultation phases progress, feedback will be used to revise the business proposal. The business proposal has been newly revised based on questions and responses to the September 30, 2019 enrollment.

 

Q12: What are the benefits of this proposal to individual school communities and the division?

A: Each school community identified within the Faith in Our Future proposal would directly benefit from sustaining students and programming opportunities. The proposal and associated consultation processes seek solutions to the following matters:

  • Sustaining French Immersion programming K-12 in the division;
  • Assuring access for students who require mobility accommodations at St. Gabriel Catholic High School (Outreach), which is not currently available and would require significant funding;
  • Sustaining access to our growing demand for online, outreach, and home education programming at St. Gabriel Catholic High School;
  • Providing safe working conditions for administration and professional development meeting spaces for staff throughout the division;
  • Determining processes to obtain funding for sustaining infrastructure to house administration in the division;
  • Determining processes to obtain funding to remove portables that have exceeded their lifecycles and contribute to lower utilization in the division;
  • Maximizing utilization to best position the division to advocate for a new school site for students who are currently housed in a school requiring replacement (École Father Jan).
  • Addressing under-utilized facilities to maximize the allocation of plant operations and maintenance funding to all schools in the division.

 

Q13: How would ESSMY be retrofitted to ensure the safety and viability in a K-9 environment? When would that occur and how much would that cost?

A: The Division would attend to provincially recognized health and utilization standards to determine whether and how to transfer students from one school site to another. Adapting to changes in student enrolment is a common occurrence provincially and locally, and schools change grade configurations and adjust use of buildings to meet students’ needs. In the case of Faith in Our Future, we have listed the matters to be addressed in Question 12, and we will assess feedback from each phase of the consultation process to determine the most viable solutions of interest to  community stakeholders.

Q14: How will the ESSMY site accommodate EMP students?

A: Based on the available information to create this proposal, ESSMY will accommodate EMP based on utilization rates. Utilization rates are determined by Alberta Education: Capital Planning Branch and Alberta Infrastructure based on the number of students in identified instructional spaces within a school:

  • ESSMY’s school site has a net capacity* of 626 students that can be accommodated.
  • ESSMY’s school site has a utilization rate of 44% based on the 2018-2019 data.
  • Based on ESSMY’s net capacity and utilization rate, adding EMP students (371) would bring ESSMY’s utilization to 95% without any additional modular units.
  • Adding to ESSMY new modular units or existing modular units at EMP would bring utilization of ESSMY to a utilization as low as 85%. 
  • All health and safety and education standards would be met in these scenarios.

*net capacity=total instructional area divided by per student allocation of space as defined by Alberta Education.

 

Q15. Why are the numbers for EMP to ESSMY in the current FAQ different from the original proposal?

The numbers used in the original business proposal were based on the information available at that time, and the description above in Q14 is based on current information. 

 

Q16. Will there be enough washrooms for students in ESSMY if EMP students move to that location?

Yes. Based on Design Standards (National Building Code, 2019) and utilization rates as described above, we would meet the standard.

 

Q17. Will we have enough gym space and times of access for students in K-9 if EMP moved to ESSMY?

Yes, ESSMY’s gym will meet size requirements for a K-9 school.

 

Q18. What will ESSMY classrooms within the school look like to accommodate K-9?

During the process of public engagement including discussions and open houses, we will represent a visual rendering of how ESSMY will accommodate K-9. This rendering will happen as we gather your ideas and investigate your concerns and questions. 

 

Q19: How are environmental safety considerations being handled (e.g., playground access, proximity to Boudreau Road)?

A: Occupational health and safety standards for schools govern how we design access to schools, including roadways, bus lanes, park access, and playgrounds. 

 

BENEFITS TO STUDENTS

Q20. How would Faith in Our Future benefit students?

Each school community identified within the Faith in Our Future proposal would directly benefit from sustaining students and programming opportunities:

  • ESSMY to SACHS--Increased Access to Programming: French Immersion programming currently exists in two high school locations. In the location with higher enrolment, students have had access to greater, diverse choices in option programming and sports teams. The proposal to move high school students from ESSMY to SACHS is intended to rectify this inequity of programming access and to ensure that students who are in French Immersion stay within the system.

 

  • EMP to ESSMY--Educational research and existing practices in our division verifies that a K-junior high configuration is beneficial to students’ academic, social, and emotional wellbeing. This configuration promotes peer mentorship between younger and older students and offers rich dynamic option programming (CTS) for grades 4+ students. Over time, younger students have reported feeling more “at ease” and confident about their junior high experience when they stay  together in one building. The proposal to move EMP students to ESSMY is to help EMP students thrive.

 

  • EMP to ESSMY--Proximity: Transferring students to a school site that they would likely attend within a few years reduces disruption to students in their daily routines (walking to school, taking a bus). 

 

  • EFJ--Utilization: Maximizing utilization to best position the division to advocate for a new school site for students who are currently housed in a school requiring replacement (École Father Jan). EFJ students live near the Riverside location where the next accessible school site exists.  

 

  • St. Gabriel High School: Expanding online school programming for high school, home education, and outreach students.

 

  • ALL Students: Increasing access to flexibly designed learning spaces, technologies, and deep learning in all school sites at all levels for all students.

 

Q21. Are the timelines of the Faith in Our Future proposal fixed?

No. The sequential steps and timelines are an illustration of how current division needs can be met. No actions within the proposal will be taken without considering public feedback and then providing assurances that proposed plans based upon resourcing needs and design standards can be met.