Catholic schools are part of the dual system of public education in Alberta. They are publicly-funded, and operate under the same provincial legislation (the Education Act) as non-Catholic public schools. Catholic schools have been operating in Alberta since the 1840's, before Alberta became a province of Canada.
But what is unique about Catholic schools? The Declaration on Christian Education, published in 1965 following the Second Vatican Council, describes the purpose of a Catholic school as trying "to relate all of human culture to the good news of salvation, so that the light of faith will illumine everything that the students will gradually come to know about the world, about life, and about the human person." Parents, teachers, administrators, trustees, and the entire Catholic community are entrusted in this vital mission.
Parents are recognized as the primary educators of their children, and they choose how their children will be formally educated. Teachers play a crucial role in leading students to an understanding of the world which is illuminated by "the light of faith", and administrators create the environment in which this understanding takes place. The Catholic community is involved through local parishes, which work closely with schools in areas such as sacramental preparation; individually, through the allocation of property taxes; and through the Church, represented by the local Bishop, who is responsible for approving the religious education program taught in the school.
Catholic trustees have a significant role within this partnership. They oversee the operation of their local school district on behalf of the provincial government, and on behalf of the Catholic community who elect them. As such, they are both political and faith leaders in their communities. To support trustees in this unique role, and provide an opportunity to discuss and report on issues significant to Catholic education across the province, the ACSTA was formed in 1966.
As an incorporated society, the ACSTA operates under a set of objectives, and is guided by a mission statement which is developed and approved by the membership.
Today, the Alberta Catholic School Trustees' Association (ACSTA) represents all 24 Catholic anglophone and francophone school boards, and 153 trustees, who in turn serve more than 183,500 students in 450 Catholic schools. Our membership includes the Catholic districts of Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories, Yukon Territory and Lloydminster, which is designated as both an Alberta and Saskatchewan jurisdiction. The non-denominational St. Paul Education Regional Division is also a member of ACSTA.