Bill 55 – College of Alberta School Superintendents Act Receives Royal Assent
Bill 55 – College of Alberta School Superintendents Act received royal assent, April 23, 2021. The act outlines an exciting future for CASS as it stipulates the long-overdue recognition of the superintendency and those system leaders who opted out from the Teaching Profession Act as having unique professional status within the field of education. Helping to elevate the profession of system leaders, this legislation promises to strengthen K-12 education and, most importantly, provide better outcomes for students. CASS could not be more pleased. Bill 55 will be proclaimed in September 2021. Some components, such as the Minister no longer approving superintendent appointments, comes into force upon proclamation. However, the majority of changes come into force in September 2022.
CASS History 1958 – 2017
In 1958, under the auspices of the Deputy Minister of Education, an annual meeting of locally appointed superintendents of Alberta began. An independent group called the Alberta Urban School Superintendents’ Association (AUSSA) in 1963, soon after to be named the Conference of Alberta School Superintendents.
Over the next few years, a constitution, a code of ethics, and a statement of policies and practices were developed. Now, each year at the annual Conference of Alberta School Superintendents (CASS), resolutions concerning current educational issues are presented to the membership for consideration. Those approved are incorporated into the policies and practices of the organization.
This handbook is a consolidation of that important information. Its purpose is to present the foundations upon which the organization is based, to provide the policies and practices approved by the membership, and to preserve an historical perspective of the organization.
I would like to acknowledge the assistance of Ernie Elkins, Executive Director, CASS; Gerry Mazer, Assistant Superintendent, Grande Prairie School District; Doug Christensen, Superintendent, Medicine Hat School Division; Georgia Wardell and Judy Frederick, Executive Secretaries, Strathcona County, in the compilation of this handbook.
J. A. GEE
In 1966, AUSSA joined with ASSIA (Alberta School Superintendents’ and Inspectors’ Association) in staging an annual conference which has endured to the present with ASSIA and known as AEMS (Alberta Education Management Society). Consideration was given about this time to merging ourselves with ASSIA to form one organization.
Arising out of this consideration, which was determined in the negative, was the decision to change our name to CASS (Conference of Alberta School Superintendents) to more correctly describe our membership which, by then, included locally appointed superintendents and assistants to any Alberta jurisdiction, i.e. not only urban jurisdictions. In 1967, we had only twenty-six members so, in hindsight, it appears there was considerable foresight in this decision.
The 1970 rewrite of the School Act required all jurisdictions, initially with forty or more teachers, to appoint their own superintendent. As a consequence, CASS quickly traded places with ASSIA as the larger organization. From a small comfortable club of senior and experienced administrators, CASS had a membership transformation to a rapidly growing, widely dispersed, younger, and far less experienced group of school administrators.
Since 1974, a Departmental representative has attended our Executive meetings – at our invitation.
Met with ATA in Liaison Conferences, provincially, for several years, then later encouraged liaison to occur at zone level.
Initiated practice of recognizing retiring members.
Developed a CASS logo (driving force – R. Himsl).
Saw a steady development of zone summer conferences as an excellent means of professional development, promoting fellowship and providing for family involvement.
With University of Alberta, involved in analysis of opportunity for professional development for superintendents.
Hosted successfully the 1974 CASS Annual Conference in Calgary – to be repeated in 1984 in Edmonton.
Participated in International Intervisitation Program in School Administration in England in 1974 and in Canada in 1978.
Carried out provincial level Professional Development activities by way of Pressure Cookers in Calgary and Edmonton and a conference at Fairmont.
Co-operated with Alberta Education yearly in Orientation Sessions for new members.
Abandoned practice of General Meeting in conjunction with ASBA Annual Conference in the interests of quality meetings.
Nominated successfully three Honourary Life Members – Jack James, Harold McNeil, Jack Van Tighem – and one Distinguished Service Member – Jack Van Tighem – CASA.
One of the first major significant decisions was to avoid attempting to “run” CASS on a centralized model of control, but rather to encourage contacts and development within six zones throughout the province with a seventh reserved to the metro boards of Edmonton and Calgary. Each zone was to be represented on a central executive by one member – a Director – who, hopefully, would serve as a channel of two-way communication between the more localized activities and concerns of the zone and the activities and purposes of CASS as a provincial body – seeking to become recognized as a Stakeholder in education in Alberta and hopefully, providing a channel for providing opportunities for leadership and professional development for its members.
By 1973, it had become abundantly clear that CASS was burgeoning to an extent that management of its administrative affairs could no longer be left solely to elected officers who were full-time, practicing superintendents or assistants – already with their plates filled to over-flowing. Jack James, a retired Superintendent of Secondary Schools with Calgary Public Schools (Alberta’s largest school system), was the fortuitous choice as our first Executive Secretary.
Since 1978, CASS received yearly grants from Alberta Education – first $1,000.00, now $3,000.00.
Conceived, lobbied for and obtained provincially financed study on The School Superintendency in Alberta – 1976 – A Report of an Inquiry by L.W. Downey. Subsequently co-operated with production of “Guidelines for Employment of School Superintendents”, a Superintendents’ Handbook.
Extended membership to include the Northwest Territories.
Approved several CASA arranged provincial intervisitations.
Formed Education Committee, Legislative Committee and Professional Advisory Committee.
Distributed frameable Code of Ethics to all members.
Investigated professional course possibilities at Banff School of Business Management.
Carried out benefits study as well as continued yearly salary surveys.
Drew up “Model Contract” for Superintendents, emphasizing need for a contract, for evaluations and for termination procedures.
Established practice of giving retiring top officers a plaque bearing CASS logo.
Supplied all members with a CASS lapel pin.
In the professional field, we have studied, made our voice known, or been involved with many issues including the role of the Superintendent, teacher evaluation, the principalship, evaluation (power tests, comprehensive tests, challenge tests, diagnostic tests, subject related departmentals), evaluation of schools, school systems, curriculum, teachers, superintendents, educational finance, the role of Secretary-Treasurers, junior high schools, private schools, effects on education of the County Act, Teaching Professions Act proposals, teacher certification and tenure, Minister’s investigation of a School Division, role of regional offices, school year / school day, school building regulations, mandatory physical fitness throughout the grades and administrative problems with various Departmental programs. The above list is not, by any means, complete.
The handbook received a major edit in the 1996-97 school year. Members of the Legislative Committee, Jill Bushrod and John Darroch along with Executive Director, Dr. Neil Gannon are owed a debt of gratitude for their efforts. Linda Sawyer of Foothills School Division #38 reproduced the entire, revised Handbook.
D. A. LYNN
In the last two or three years, in particular, there have been almost innumerable initiatives for questioning current educational practices and structures which have proved a real challenge to CASS. Its members’ resources of time and energy have been freely given by many but always these come up against the reality of a time-consuming set of responsibilities and duties in their own jurisdictions.
In light of this situation, CASS has examined itself over the past four years to seek to gain consensus on its true role and how it should best organize to achieve this. It seems to have been clearly established that it does not want to present any aspects of the role of a union. It continues to search whether it wants or does not want stronger legislative sanction. It struggles with determining a structure or operating mode that may enable it, effectively, to be reactive always when necessary and to be proactive, at least selectively, on those issues it may identify as being crucial to the success of education in Alberta. Without question, CASS has had some success in advancing these aspirations in recent years if one measures this by the extent to which it is being consulted and listened to by significant authorities in education in Alberta.
The financial resources available to the organization are viewed as being finite and possibly too limited if any extensive or elaborate secretariat is contemplated. How CASS will resolve this dilemma awaits the unfolding future.
Fee Structure and Internal Adjustments
In 1973, the budget was under $10,000.00, fee was $25.00 and membership was 87.
In 1977, the budget was about $23,000.00, fee was $150.00 and membership was 139.
In 1983, the budget was about $71,000.00, fee was $265.00, and membership was 220.
During the past eleven years, Executive meetings have increased in number from five a year to eight to ten per year, in addition to regular meetings with the Minister, the Deputy Minister, ASBOA, ATA, ASBA, and Stakeholders meetings. Representation on committees has increased from about ten to over fifty in 1983.
Our posture has been gradually changed from being almost entirely reactive on a limited basis to one of being frequently reactive to all issues that affect school administrators, as well as showing an increased tendency to be proactive.
Other internal activities and adjustments would include:
- Registered under Societies Act – 1977.
- Successfully nominated four past-presidents to the role of Director of the Canadian Education Association.
- Supplied a regional vice-president and president to CASA, in addition to providing yearly representatives who have been strong members of that organization’s executive.