By Andrew Ehrkamp
Glen Argan says he hopes to fight for Catholic education and bring “harmony” to the Edmonton Catholic School District board if he’s elected this fall.
“The actions of the board not only brought themselves into disgrace but they have brought a blight on the Catholic community and I don’t like to see that,” said Argan, a former editor of the Western Catholic Reporter newspaper, who is running in Ward 75 in south-central Edmonton.
“The biggest motivation was seeing the dysfunction of the current board and feeling that I could work with the other trustees on the next board to overcome this.”
Argan, 64, announced his candidacy on July 12. Argan was editor of the Western Catholic Reporter for nearly 30 years. For the past 10 years, he has been studying theology and will graduate in October with a master of theology from Newman Theological College.
Alene Mutala, a retired religious education consultant with the Elk Island Catholic school district, is also running in Ward 75. Mutala could not be reached for comment.
For his part, Argan said the upcoming election on Oct. 16 will be a critical one.
“I’m very concerned about the future of Catholic education. I think it’s in more danger now than it has been in the past,” said Argan, whose four daughters have all attended Catholic schools in Ward 75.
“The biggest challenge to Catholic education is from within. There’s a dissonance on the (Edmonton) board and also an indifference within the Catholic community as well as growing opposition to a publicly funded education system in Alberta.”
The current trustee for Ward 75, John Acheson, made headlines in February when he advocated for an assessment – or a test - of the Catholic school board’s evangelization mission. The issue has since been referred to the Alberta Catholic School Trustees Association.
“We put a lot of effort into evangelization but there’s no measure of the impact,” Acheson said.
Argan said a written test of knowledge of a student’s Catholic faith is “worth looking at.”
“I think it’s wrong-headed to test the discipleship of students,” Argan said, but “after 12 or 13 years, students should be able to answer questions about Catholic teaching.”
“Glen has a deep understanding of Catholic education and he’s prepared to speak up,” said Acheson, who is stepping down after serving as a trustee for seven years.
“I hope there will be a new group to take a fresh look at things.”
Argan said “tighter” board finances and a potential search for a new superintendent are issues he may have to deal with during his four-year term if he’s elected. The current superintendent, Joan Carr, has had her contract extended to August 2018.
The deadline for nominations in the upcoming school and municipal elections is Sept. 18.
For more information on running for election as a Catholic school trustee, download the ACSTA Trustee Handbook.
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