This Sunday is the first Sunday in Advent which is also the first Sunday of the new liturgical year. The Advent season includes the four Sundays that precede Christmas. Advent is a time of preparation for the coming of the Lord. In this season, we recall two central elements of our faith: the final coming of the Lord in glory and the incarnation of the Lord in the birth of Jesus. The key themes of the Advent season are watchful waiting, preparation, and justice. It also reminds us that Christmas is just around the corner. Where did the year go?
The St Augustine’s Education Board is an integral forum for parent voice where it meets formally to discuss matters concerning the school. This year the Board began with a discussion with a parish member on the Plenary Council followed by recommendations to be taken back to Fr Peter. This year the Education Board has been integral in discussing and recommending school fees, grade structure (with a recommendation of an eleventh grade enabling us to implement straight prep classes in 2020), discussion on the technology program and the proposed ‘Future Learners’ program (introduction in 2020 of iPads being leased to buy starting in year 3 & 4 next year), and discussion on school improvement by looking at the School Improvement data generated from the School Improvement surveys. Every year four people complete their two year tenure while four people are inducted for the next four years. This year we say thank you and goodbye to Graham Miller, Belinda Lopez Spehar, Andrew Collins and Melissa Scarpaci. Thank you for your time and counsel over the past two years. I am pleased to inform you of the new Education Board members for 2020: Michelle Ivkovic, Rachael Egan, with two more members yet to be finalised. They will join Trevor Goodison (Chair), Sabrina Rogic, Elisabeth Sita and Dave Johnstone to form out 2020 Education Board. I look forward to working with you as we look towards school improvement for St Augustine’s.
Each year I discuss with the Education Board and the School Accountant the setting of the next year’s school fees. Accessing Catholic education is always the prime motivator in trying to keep fees as low as possible. This year, as in other years, there is a Family Fee increase to keep in line with Educational CPI. We have kept this to a minimum as there was a larger increase last year. We have budgeted hard to ensure the Composite Fee has only a marginal increase. Please note that our composite fees include camp, swimming, excursions, technology etc.. where many schools do not include this but charge for these activities throughout the year thus appearing to have lower fees. We charge everything up front so you know what to budget for. One way of looking at is that you are paying $15 a day for a family to attend St Augustine’s! This year the composite fee for Years 3 and 4 has increased. This is due to the new technology 'Future Learners' program where the children will be provided with an iPad, pen, case and keyboard. This is a four year lease-to-buy where the Years 3/4 children will eventually own the device at the end of year 6. Go to 'The Front Office' page to view the 2020 School Fees and Composite Fees Schedule. A reminder that fees are billed at the start of the year.
We were very pleased to have Denyse Ritchie visit our school this week. Denyse is the guru in THRASS and taught most of our teachers this process. She has been working with many organisations this week including AITSL (Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership) and asked to come and visit our school. Denise often comes to visit to see our work in literacy, particularly THRASS. We feel very privileged to spend time with her. She is greatly impressed with our results and has suggested we should be offering other schools to come and view the great work we are doing as she sees us as a high performing school in this area. A high recommendation!
We are once again running our Christmas Raffle. This has always been a great success due to the generosity of families.. We are once again asking for donations. Donations can include: chocolates, lollies, decorations, ornaments, frames, mugs, glassware, stationary, toiletries, toys, books, biscuits, crackers, sports equipment, vouchers, or anything with a Christmas or summer theme (no alcohol thank you). The MORE donations, the MORE prizes. A basket has been placed in the office for you to place your generous donations. The raffle prizes will be drawn at our final assembly on Wednesday 18h December @ 12.30 pm.
Earlier in the year I informed you of various grants I had applied for. Unfortunately the selection process takes a long time and we have only just been informed of our status. Unfortunately we did not receive either the Federal Capital Grant or the Victorian Government Capital Grant. While this is disappointing we know that most of this money was going to new schools and lower SES schools. Another round opens in January so I will once again apply for a grant to help with refurbishment of existing classrooms. The Victorian Government Capital Grant program runs for another three years so we will keep applying and lobbying for St Augustine’s to receive some of this money! I will continue talks with the new Education Board on capital projects we can self fund next year.