Gabe Pizzuti and John Jevnikar have been acclaimed as Chair and Vice Chair of the Board of the Trustees, respectively, for the 2024 year. Congratulations!
At the inaugural meeting held on November 20, Chair Pizzuti gave the following address:
Good evening and welcome to the 2023 Inaugural Meeting of the London District Catholic School Board.
At the outset, I would like to thank our celebrant and Board chaplain Fr. Mockler for leading us in prayer this evening. We are grateful to Fr. Mockler and the continued spiritual support he provides the LDCSB. My sincere gratitude to Beth Allison and Paul Droog for sharing their talent of music for our celebration.
I am pleased to see so many of our LDCSB staff, families and friends and partners in education hear present this evening. Our Inaugural Meeting tonight reflects the desired commitment and collaboration which is essential in ensuring the success of Catholic education.
I am deeply honoured by the trust and confidence that the Board of Trustees has placed in me by acclaiming me as chair of the LDCSB. It is a privilege to serve in this capacity. Together, we will continue to uphold the principles of Catholic education through our collective efforts that will indeed have a positive impact on the families and staff that we serve.
I wish to express my gratitude to Trustee Steel for her outstanding leadership and dedicated service as the former chair. Her guidance, wisdom, and steadfast commitment to the mission of Catholic education has been truly inspiring and exemplary. Her tireless efforts in steering the Board through the challenges of the pandemic and the director’s search has provided the board with a remarkable sense of stability. Throughout her tenure as chair, Trustee Steel has been a true compass for students and families and the Board.
I would like to recognize and acknowledge that this is Bill Hall’s 37th Inaugural Meeting. Trustee Hall is recognized locally and Provincially for his commitment and service to Catholic education. He is one of the longest serving Trustees in the Province of Ontario. Bill Hall has served as Chair of the Board on 14 occasions throughout his tenure with the LDCSB. So many thanks to you Trustee Hall for all you do and continue to do in the name of Catholic education.
Our vision statement: “Inspired by Christ, Learning together, Serving together”, and the biblical story of “The Road to Emmaus” are both indicative of faith journeys involving accompaniment.
The stranger who accompanies the disciples on their journey to Emmaus is our Lord Jesus. Jesus listens and shows compassion and understanding. He does not abandon his disciples on their faith journey. Jesus walks alongside his people--- supporting them, acting as a friend and as a companion.
Likewise in Our Catholic schools, we are called to follow the board’s vision of “Inspired by Christ, Learning together, Serving together”, in the spirit of walking alongside one another in true companionship. With the essential partnership of our parents and with the support of our parishes, we carry out the important mission of Catholic education, focusing on the central importance of our Lord Jesus. We do this so that our students will have a strong faith which carries them through life, and which enables them to enact the Ontario Catholic Graduate Expectations as they grow up and as they then contribute to our society and to our world-at-large as adults.
I am very pleased to see the work that will continue as it relates to Catholicity and Community which is the first pillar of our board’s MYSP, as it should be. I look forward to hearing about all the indicators in the coming year which will show how we are achieving the goals of this critical pillar. I know that our exemplary teachers and administrators will work together to ensure a priority of strong Religious Education Programs in our schools.
To support the faith development of our staff and students, our MYSP has a strong emphasis on making our faith visible through actions. Our Catholic schools will continue to provide every opportunity for daily prayer and reflection for staff and students for spiritual growth. I am excited to witness the endless opportunities that promote service-learning initiatives in all our 53 schools. Making our faith evident through social justice initiatives ensure that a publicly funded Catholic education allows the presence of our parishes and our schools to work in partnership.
I am very pleased to see a strong emphasis on student learning and achievement in our MYSP as always. Academic excellence is and has been a hallmark of Catholic education. We need to carry on this important tradition. The literacy goal “All children will read by the end of grade 1” sets the benchmark extremely high and shows that our school Board is ambitious and committed to a strong foundation of early literacy. This goal is incredibly inclusive and ensures that no child is left behind in their literacy development.
Supporting the mental health and well-being of our students and staff must be a priority. The Board must be proactive with supports so that we are connecting quickly to those who are in need. Every student and staff with the LDCSB must have available resources to them to learn and work in a supportive environment. The Board’s Multi-Year Strategic Plan has a strong emphasis on building healthy, resilient school communities that are inclusive. I am so pleased to see the successful implementation of Wellness Wednesday as an effective tool to support the mental and the emotional well-being for 26K students and 3800 staff with the LDCSB!
The LDCSB has been proactive in its quick adaptation to the challenges of rapid enrollment growth. The Board has consistently experienced enrolment growth since 2017; a trend that is expected to continue for many years to come. We are investing in the future of Catholic education with the building of two new elementary schools and ensuring equitable access to learning opportunities. With a $51 million capital investment from the Province of Ontario, a new Catholic secondary school at Regina Mundi College will have a significant impact on the quality of education and the learning experience for our students.
The London District Catholic School Board remains fiscally responsible and has just completed the Consolidated Financial Statements for the year ending August 31, 2023. We continue to have increased revenues directly related to increased student enrolment. We continue to balance our budgets and move into 2023-24 school year with an operating surplus of $8.6M, from prior year. We continue to meet our obligations and lead with a high priority to ensure value and stewardship of our resources.
With a 20% increase in enrollment over the last two years, our pupil enrollment is the highest it has ever been. Our growth is based on the trust our community members place on our Catholic schools for being a caring, safe and inclusive learning environment for both students, supported by truly dedicated staff. Our Board has taken proactive steps to accommodate this explosive growth.
I am excited to hear that the department of People and Culture has initiated the creation of a bold new leadership development and training model. This investment in future leaders aims to establish clear pathways for employees to access ongoing professional development training and to set paths for career progression within the Board. The aim is to produce new leaders that are confident and capable curriculum leaders within their school communities, contributing to the overall success and growth of the Board.
I am so pleased that our relationship and collaboration between the Board of Trustees and Senior administration team is transparent with open lines of communication. Our Trustees and our Senior Administration team work closely together to chart the most optimal course for the LDCSB. The intricate process of the ARAC is a prime example how we work in partnership to determine the best path forward. Often complex and challenging, the process is designed for collaboration and consensus with families and school staff. As a group, we are always dedicated to fostering and strengthening these relationships with all our stakeholders
As the Chair of the London Catholic School Board, I am committed to working hard each day to ensure that the Board upholds rigorous academic standards for our students, while also prioritizing the importance on making our faith visible through our actions.
I am eager to witness daily the excellent contributions of our dedicated staff and students in the upcoming year as we work in partnership with the home, school and parish in the pursuit of academic excellence. I look forward to our shared journey together, walking alongside each other to pursue the true meaning of accompaniment in Catholic education.
From left to right: Trustee Matt Pizzuti, Mayor Josh Morgan, Director of Education Vince Romeo, Trustee Pizzuti and his wife Catherine.