Ask-A-Candidate Question 15

Editor’s Note: As part of our ongoing coverage of Election 2010, is accepting question from our readers, which will be published anonymously for candidates to answer. Please note that only candidates will be able to respond to the questions asked by our readers. Links to questions asked will be archived in our Ask-A-Candidate section. See link in navigation bar above.


As a relatively new resident to Morinville, I was quite surprised to find out all the public schools in town are part of a Catholic school system. I know that the schools offer an “option” class for those students who do not participate in the religion program. But why isn’t there a public “non-faith based” school in town offered to residents who are not Catholics or those who want their children to attend a regular school.

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  1. PLEASE NOTE – Only Candidates may post comments to this posting. welcomes reader comments on our articles, but we wish to keep these particular segments open for candidates alone so that readers do not have to separate who is and is not vying for their vote.

  2. You pose a very good question and I will try to do my best to answer it for you. We have a very unique system in Morinville. We are a Catholic Public School Division which means that though we are considered a Catholic School, we also welcome and embrace people of all faiths.

    This being said, there has been no indication that we need to consider other schools, as we have been able to meet the needs of all students within our community.

    I would also like to add that my family is non-catholic and both of my daughters have attended our schools. They have received a very rich education that has offered them a loving and nurturing environment for them the learn in. I believe that the values that our schools teach as a result of being Catholic Public are enormous.

    Our schools operate with an inclusive approach and that means that we welcome all and try to design programs to fit with all faiths, as all faiths are worth supporting.

    Heather Thiessen
    Candidate for School Board Trustee

  3. I would have to say that I agree with Heather in her answer that this can be confusing to those families who are new to our community.
    We are a Public Catholic division because of the history in this area.
    I too would agree that we are a very welcoming school division; I believe that this makes our schools a wonderful rich environment for our students.
    Our schools do model an inclusive approach to education in not only religion but the core curriculum as well, and we pride ourselves on this fact. We are always looking for ways to improve our schools and encourage families to approach us if they feel we could make their experience a better one for their children.

    Lauri-Ann Turnbull
    Trustee Greater St. Albert Catholic Regional Division #29
    Yours in Education

  4. It is a valid point that our schools belong to a Public Catholic School division, and I do understand that Morinville has a rich blend of faiths and cultures. As a previous teacher with this division, I am very aware of the delivery of education in our schools, and yes, each child is welcomed as the individual they are. Having a non-faith based school discussion never was in the forefront as parents were concerned that their child becomes a caring, responsible and contributing member of our society. One must remember that with every request there is a taxpayer’s dollar attached. As trustees we must listen to concerns and decide how to fiscally address them within budgetary constraints.
    I feel the main part of the question is that the new resident was surprised to find out about our school system. If elected trustee, I am willing to approach realtors to present a pamphlet to prospective buyers or renters. This should also be made available at our information centre. All this is quite doable as the Greater St. Albert Catholic School Regional District is a member of our chamber.
    The second part addresses the part of residents who …………. want their children to attend a regular school. There may be ways to address this in the future as the Minister is recommending that a child has a right to access education at any place, at any time and at their own rate. This has already created numerous discussion papers from school boards throughout the province. As your trustee, I will listen carefully to residents, other school boards and our ministry of education. I will then report back to you as to information received. This has to be a cooperative approach to deciding what the best is for the children in our community.
    For further discussion or more information, please contact me at

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