New president at the helm of the Saskatchewan Catholic School Boards Association

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By Frank Flegel

Regina Catholic School Board Trustee Vicky Bonnell was elected President of the Saskatchewan Catholic School Board Association (SCSBA) at the association’s annual meeting held October 21 at the Doubletree Hotel in Regina. Bonnell has served in various positions with the SCSBA, most recently as Vice-President in 2016-17. She was elected Regina Catholic School Division trustee in 2006 and re-elected in 2009, 2012 and 2016. She has served as Chair and Deputy Chair of the Division over the course of her 11 years on the Regina Board.  

“Our goals remain: To help Catholic School Divisions in their role to provide a faith-filled education and prepare our students as future leaders in society,” she said in thanking members for their support.

Saskatchewan Catholic School Divisions have, in general, met and exceeded government established academic goals as well as graduation rates for all students, including specific graduation rates for First Nations, Metis and Inuit students.

Bonnell spoke briefly about the on-going challenges facing Catholic education most notably those created by the Theodore court decision which ruled the government of Saskatchewan cannot fund non-Catholic students attending Catholic schools. “That decision is being appealed, of course,” said Bonnell, “but legal costs are estimated to be about $250,000 if the appeal process goes all the way to the Supreme Court, which it probably will.” Those costs could increase by $50,000 if a petition to recover court and legal costs filed by the Good Spirit School Division #204 is successful.

Bonnell advised the meeting that a fund-raising committee has been established and a major fund-raising campaign will shortly be announced.  All eight Catholic school divisions are also being encouraged to come up with fund raising programs of their own to help the effort. Fund raising is necessary because school divisions can’t and would not in any case, use government education grants to pay legal costs for the appeals.

The Saskatchewan government also intends to appeal the judgement. Premier Brad Wall announced that the government will invoke the notwithstanding clause in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to overrule the court decision and maintain the status quo for at least five years while the appeals process winds its way through the courts.