Mike St. Amand is a firm believer in the catholic education system and he is doing everything he can to ensure that system is maintained, or even improved upon, for years to come.
Having been a trustee with the Prince Albert Roman Catholic School Division since 2003, St. Amand was recently elected to a two-year term as a vice-president of the Canadian Catholic School Trustees Association. This new role will help him bring valuable information and ideas to the local board, which is presently dealing with a number of issues brought forward by the Ministry of Education.
“It is not easy being a trustee, but now more than ever we are needed,” explains St. Amand. “It has been frustrating. Under the rules the ministry has in front of us we are not sure of the direction or the expectations.”
Among the chief changes the local board has had to deal with is the starting date for the school year, which has been pushed back to after the Labour Day long weekend. St. Amand says there was no consultation on the matter and through a lot of hard work, everything has been accommodated.
“It is what it is; we just have to deal with it,” says St. Amand. “We have to give a lot of credit to the directors – for both the separate and public school divisions – they did a fantastic job.”
Another critical change is the elimination of funding for community schools. St. Amand says this kind of slipped under the radar.
“They don’t even identify it in the budget anymore,” says St. Amand. “If you want to be a community school, you have to find the money somewhere else in the budget.”
With his new role with the national association, St. Amand will be working with a number of groups including the executive and finance committees. Most of the work will be done by conference calls, but there will be a once-a-year get together where more structured work can take place.
“We will lobby the Members of Parliament for protection of catholic education,” says St. Amand. “There is a different mission for the catholic education system.”
One of the requirements for St. Amand to be on the executive of the national trustees association is that he must maintain his position with the local board. Therefore, when the civic elections are held in October, he will be seeking one of the seven four-year positions that will be voted on by the separate school taxpayers of Prince Albert. He is also hoping others will consider becoming a trustee.
“We need to invite younger rate payers to run in October,” says St. Amand. “I would really like to encourage people that are sitting on the fence to put their name forward.”
What started as working at the local level nine years ago and transpired into provincial executive positions and now has him on the board with the national association, St. Amand is leaving his footprint in the catholic education system. He thinks that hard work is paying off.
“I think the boards are doing a great job with the budgets we have,” says St. Amand. “Trustees put in a lot of time.”
It looks like more time will be spent in the future.