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Petrella begins fifth consecutive term as Chair of Catholic School Board

For immediate release

December 4, 2018 (Brant, Haldimand, Norfolk) – At the Inaugural meeting, the Trustees of the Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District School Board elected Rick Petrella, as Chair of the Board and Dan Dignard as Vice-Chair.

Chair Petrella is an active resident of the City of Brantford and has a Trustee since 2010. Experience on multiple Board committees including Audit, Budget and Strategic Planning has provided him with a strong foundation. As well, his focus on technology, student achievement and reinvesting in the district will serve the Board well leading into the new four-year term. In his acceptance speech, Petrella highlighted that “innovation, creativity, dedication and fiscal responsibility do work together as is evident in our new programs and supports for students, increasing access to seamless childcare, improved student achievement results, and improvements to our schools and buildings that we have seen over the last four years, all executed within a balanced budget.” (See Chair Petrella’s full address below)

Vice-chair Dan Dignard has 42 years experience in school board governance. He is active in his home community of Burford and is the trustee representing Brant County. Vice-chair Dignard currently sits on multiple committees with Trustee representation including Accommodations, Policy, and Supervised Alternative Learning.

Many administrators and staff attended the Board elections and Inaugural meeting which followed a Celebration of the Eucharist presided by the Most Reverend Joseph Dabrowski, CSMA, Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of London. Music Ministry was provided by Kim Spencer Dakin, Allison Hayes, Michelle Nepp-Wirag, John Nicholson, Dale Petruka, Susie Picanco, Jodi Kuran, and Michael Pin. The event’s reception was catered by Jennifer Svec, Culinary Arts Teacher and the Grade 11 Hospitality Students, St. John’s College.


Photo cutline (left to right): Chair of the Board, Rick Petrella; Vice-chair of the Board, Dan Dignard

Chair Petrella’s Full Inaugural Address

Good evening everyone,

I’d like to begin by saying ‘welcome’ and thank you to all of you for attending the Inaugural Meeting of the Board.

It’s wonderful to see our dedicated staff here supporting the trustees who will help guide the system over the next four years. This underscores that Catholic education is strong in Brant Haldimand and Norfolk and throughout the province.

To my fellow trustees, I thank you, once again, for putting your trust in me as your Chair, and wish to take this opportunity to congratulate Trustee Dan Dignard on being elected as Vice-chair. It is with great pride that I continue to work with each of you and extend a welcome to Trustee Watson to the Board.

Looking back over the last four years, I cannot help but highlight my sense of pride in the great work of our Board, staff and students. This Board repeatedly set the bar high and repeatedly the system achieved the goals. You are all to be commended on this.

Our new system-wide STEM program, revised math strategies, and a focus on leadership development… are just a few of the initiatives that saw great success over the last four years. I am also proud of the infrastructure projects and reinvestments that this board has made.

2019 brings new opportunities for this Board and with that, there are always changes. We will see the departure of our Director of Education to pursue a new position with Huron Perth Catholic District School Board and the retirement of our Superintendent of Business.

The Board wishes to thank both of them for their service and convey best wishes and much success in their journeys.

This year will be a year of change with the Board beginning the process of hiring a new Director of Education and Superintendent of Business. We are committed to ensuring a smooth transition and the continuation of the Board’s laser focus on student achievement and fiscal responsibility during and after the transition period. In the upcoming weeks, I will be able to provide an update to the system as to our plans.

I’m looking forward to witnessing our success under the direction of a new Strategic Plan that will begin in the New Year. The former plan supported great achievement across the system and our new plan will provide the foundation for continued student success and promote ‘innovative ways of learning’ that support all students. Strategic Plans are an important way to ensure that we have focus.

As always, I take great pride in how our school district operates. Being fiscally responsible is more than just ensuring that we don’t overspend. Being fiscally responsible means that we use our funding, within budget, to develop innovative and creative ways to support and reinvest in the learning and success of our students.

Our transparent and responsible approach has served us well in the past and will assist us in remaining a strong and accountable organization. I am pleased to report that our Board has been, and will continue to be, in a strong financial and surplus position.

Innovation, creativity, dedication and fiscal responsibility do work together. This is evident in our new programs and supports for students, increasing access to seamless childcare, improved student achievement results, and improvements to our schools and buildings that we have seen over the last four years, all executed within a balanced budget.

It is the financial stability, that we repeatedly demonstrate, that enables us to plan great things; reinvesting in our students and our system.

I would like to extend a word of appreciation to staff including our union partners, whom we work with to ensure that the education of our children is world class. Our Board is committed to an inclusive and collaborative environment; working together with our union partners to achieve success for all students. This Board has always believed that by working together, we ensure that relationships continue to build and collaboration extends to all areas and departments of the district.

Our Board also recognizes that staff across the district go above and beyond every day in the operation of our system. When you enter one of our schools you will see that being with us is ‘not just a job’ to them. Their dedication can be witnessed in our classrooms and buildings and even on social media where we highlight their achievements and great work.

This year on social media, I saw students solving complex math problems in multiple ways, the release of a small bird who was injured and nursed back to health, young students investigating how a pulley system works, and senior students volunteering at St. Vincent de Paul. Our online world is expanding and it is incredible that, through social media, we can actually witness the great work and these awesome experiences.

I would also like to acknowledge the district’s senior team. It is through their dedication and hard work that the foundations of great initiatives are created.

The Board has set the bar high on results and deliverables and repeatedly, they have risen to the challenge. Please know that what you do is realized… and although acknowledgement is not asked for, I want to highlight your role in the continued success of our students.

As a Catholic system, the home-school-parish partnership is our foundation. Everyone has a role in the education of our children and we are so fortunate that our students have the opportunity to live their faith every day in our schools.

The support of Catholic education is strong, and loud, and when we work together with the support of our families, staff, and parish community - we all succeed.

I’d like to conclude by once again saying thank you for putting your faith in me. Being selected to hold the role as your Board Chair is not one that I take lightly and I will do my very best every day to ensure that together, we navigate our path and continue to foster a great and successful faith-filled future for our students. 

Thank you and God bless.

~ Chair of the Board, Rick Petrella