Edmonton schools phase out gambling as source of funding

EDMONTON, Alberta (CNS) — Edmonton Catholic Schools’ trustees have voted to abolish gambling activities as a source of school funding.

But board chair Debbie Engel says casino revenues will still be used in Catholic schools while the board looks for alternative and sustainable options for the district, which serves the city of Edmonton with publicly funded Catholic education.

Trustees adopted the position that “no school or school community in Alberta should have to raise money through gambling activities in order to meet children’s educational needs.” The board has been dealing with the issue since the fall when the Archdiocese of Edmonton implemented new policy guidelines that forbid Catholic groups to raise money through “harmful gambling activities.”

The archdiocesan chancellor, Father Gregory Bittman, said the archdiocese recognizes that the school district needs time “to make fundamental changes. However, we believe that fundraising without casinos is an attainable goal.”

Catholic schools in the city earn about $6 million through casino fundraising every 18 months. All but one of the 87 schools take part in the practice. They use the money to pay for school field trips, hot lunch programs, equipment and other extras.

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