All Mt. Pleasant students will receive similar diplomas

By KARYN SPORY

Mt. Pleasant News

All Mt. Pleasant students will receive the same diploma, regardless of their educational journey.

Melody Patent, a concerned parent, spoke to the Mt. Pleasant Community School Board during their regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, about the Individualized Education Program (IEP).

Patent said according to the language in the police, her daughter, who is currently a junior, would not be offered a diploma, but rather a certificate of completion.

Patent said when she was preparing for the annual IEP meeting; she discovered her daughter wouldn’t be offered a diploma.

“The terminology, up until that point, had not been in her IEP,” said Patent. “I started asking more questions and apparently Mt. Pleasant has never offered a diploma to students on IEP unless they fulfill the requirements for credits like gen-ed (general education) students are required to do.”

Patent said this practice seemed contrary to the idea of an individualized education plan and Mt. Pleasant’s mission of having an inclusive environment and education.

“My daughter is high functioning and very verbal and I believe she can hold several different kinds of jobs in her lifetime, but even an entry level job, like McDonald’s… one of the questions is if you have a high school diploma. If you check no, you cannot proceed with that application,” said Patent.

Even continuing her education at Kirkwood under the VITAL (Vocational Individualized Training and Learning) program, which is designed to help high school special education students succeed in careers, would not be possible without a high school diploma, Patent explained.

“My daughter has made great gains over the last several years and I’m not willing to eliminate the possibility of other kinds of jobs where a diploma would be necessary,” she continued.

Patent asked the board to align the practice with the policy and make positive changes, especially since the policy was on the agenda for a first reading.

Superintendent Dr. Mike Wells said after examining the policy, a second sentence had been added to the policy regarding special education. The policy 602.9, now states all students will receive the same diploma.

“If they meet their IEP goals, it is very clear they will receive a diploma,” said Wells.

Since the additional sentence is a major change, the policy will be receiving two readings, last night’s being the first.

During the meeting, the board also approved the budget for fiscal year 2016

Despite not having a final answer from Iowa Legislature on the Supplemental State Aid (SSA), the board approved a $14.01 per $1,000 taxable valuation.

Ed Chabal, board secretary and school director of finance, said as of right now, the governor and the House have proposed 1.25 percent for FY16, while the Senate is asking for 4 percent.

Chabal said if no agreement is made, the SSA would revert to 0 percent, which is what the budget is based on. The budget was unanimously approved.

The facility committee also presented to the board Monday night about changes they see needing to be made.

Stephanie Zinkle, co-chair of the committee, said the committee settled on eight recommendations. She said although the various recommendations were not unanimous, they did hold a majority of the committee’s vote as items that needed to be done. Zinkle added pricing estimates came from 2013 study.

Recommendations and pricing estimates include:

• Installing air conditioning for each of the elementary schools, $3,189,370

• Safe and secure entryways that requires a scanning system for admittance for each of the elementary schools and high school, $1,126,100

• Security cameras for the elementary schools, $100,000

• All schools be handicap accessible, including all restrooms being ADA complaint and an automatic door for each building, $500,000

• Extended learning spaces for each elementary school, $1,829,900

• An additional gym located at the high school, $2,205,000

• Adding a second exit at the high school for traffic, $150,000

• Allotting $500,000 for athletic renovations at Maple Leaf

The committee recommended extending the revenue purpose statement to pay for the projects.

“This would not be an increase in taxes, but a change in language of the revenue purpose statement to the year 2029,” said Zinkle.

When asked by a board member what would happen if there wasn’t enough money for all eight of the projects, if the committee would rather drop one project or just not do as much with all eight, Zinkle responded that would be a decision for the board to make.

A resolution approved the revenue purpose statement and ordering an election to authorize expenditures and the state secure and advanced vision for education fund was approved with a 6-1 vote.

In other business, the board approved the 2015-16 student fees and meal prices. Wells stated student fees were staying the same as the current fiscal year and meal prices were increasing by a nickel. The board also approved the 800 and 900 policy series review.

 

 

Post Picks: GER Courses at UWM

Everyone has to take general education requirements (GERs) in college. They’re tedious, we know. But us at the Fringe have a few picks of our favorite GERs to keep you enjoying UWM every step of the way.

Dance 122: African Dance and Diaspora Technique I
Satisfies: Cultural Diversity, Arts

Courtesy of: uwm.edu

It sounds ridiculous but it’s not. UWM is one of the few schools in the nation that offer and African Dance track program. Kill two birds with one stone with this class. Not only does it satisfy two GERs, but it also satisfies your work out for the days of class. African dance is fun, intensive, sweaty, and loud. UWM has live drummers that play each class for the dancers which adds even another dimension of authenticity to the class. In addition, the instructors are very talented and funny.

There are two short essays that are graded throughout the semester, in addition to a mandatory outside-of-class dance performance.(I went to see a one-man interpretive dance show and I will probably never see anything like it ever again.) But aside from that, the only other grade component is participation. Since choreography is involved, going to class every day is recommended.

Women are required to wear what is called a “lapa“, or a dancing skirt. You can buy a traditional lapa from the department or use a colorful scarf from home. Everyone dances barefoot.

The dancing is not hard, but it requires a lot of effort. There’s plenty of jumping, squatting, and swinging arms, so make use of the warm ups at the beginning of each class. Like many GER classes, if you try and put in effort, you will have no problem getting an A.

At the end of the semester, the dance department puts on showcases for their classes. If you want to, you can show off what you learned in African dance at the showcase. Or, you can go to watch more advanced classes perform what they learned.

African dance is definitely one of my favorite classes taken here so far.

My honorable mentions: Honors 200: Dirty Realism

Mary Jo Contino

Honors 200: Nostalgic Fictions: The Odyssey and its Cinematic Afterlife
[Honors College students only]
Satisfies: Humanities, OWCB (honors requirement)

Homer, The Odyssey.   Ulysses (Odysseus) killing the Suitors of his wife Penelope on the island of IthacaFor those just starting out in UW-Milwaukee’s Honors College, I cannot recommend Honors 200: Nostalgic Fictions: The Odyssey and its Cinematic Afterlife enough. Typically held during the spring semester, this course is completely focused on reading Homer’s The Odyssey and studying its many modern interpretations and variations.

The Odyssey is a timeless tale if there ever was one, and this class allows students to slowly and carefully break down the beautifully complicated epic. Perhaps the most intriguing moments arise when students realize just how relevant each of these characters’ stories remains today. Odysseus, Telemachus, Penelope, and others are surprisingly relatable when they face their otherworldly challenges. Personally, I found myself connecting to Odysseus’ son Telemachus’ struggle to grow up in the shadow of his father’s legacy. I am confident everyone can find a bit of themselves in The Odyssey.

Professor Tyson Hausdoerffer is beyond knowledgeable of Homeric works. He is actually able to perform many parts of The Odyssey in its original language; that unique experience alone makes the class worthwhile. However, Professor Hausdoerffer is also not afraid to tackle contemporary variants of The Odyssey—the good and the bad. There are the powerful explorations of the epic like the Coen Brothers’ film O Brother, Where Art Thou? as well as tacky “sword-and-sandal” ones like 1954’s Ulysses that he challenges students to analyze, and it is amusing as well as intriguing to do so.

Between the legendary subject matter and excellent professor, Nostalgic Fictions is one of my favorite classes I’ve taken here at UW-Milwaukee so far.

Dayton Hamann

Ethnic 275: Queer Migrations

Satisfies: Cultural Diversity, Humanities

Buzzfeed tells us that college is a time to discover who we are, whatever that means. Before we can answer, we must first understand where we come from and where we hope to go. Queer Migrations posits how race, gender, class and sexual orientation shape our identities.

If you’ve grown tired of the tedious, PowerPoint-heavy lecture, Professor Noel Mariano is the instructor for you. His exercises in experimental learning have proved to be one of the most engaging episodes of my college experience. The quirky, unpredictable flair of Mariano’s lessons command attention.

This once-a-week, three-credit course is among UWM’s finest hidden gems.

You won’t want to miss a single class.

My honorable mentions: Hebrew Studies 100, Comparative Literature 233

-Jack Feria

English/Art History/ Film Studies 111 – Entertainment Arts: Film, Television and the Internet
Satisfies: Humanities

Out of any general education course, I have learned the most and enjoyed this class the most. The material was very engaging, unlike most large lecture classes where the professor drones on for 50 minutes. Each week a new topic is lectured on and discussed. A movie or television show is shown to accommodate and illustrate the topic of that week. Then, the assignment for the week is to write up a journal entry that should be around a page responding to the prompt given at the end of the class. Aside from the three exams throughout the semester, journal entries, participation and attendance altogether make up your final grade.

Overall, the movie and TV show choices are pretty interesting. Examples include Moulin Rouge, Modern Family, and South Park. Ultimately though, the instructor who taught my course, Ben Schneider, is what made the class so interesting. He engages a discussion during lecture and makes lecture actually interesting and worth your while. You can definitely tell when he teaches that he is passionate about the subject. If you’re looking for a fun and interesting humanities general education course, this would be the one for you!

Bo Bayerl

Bio Sci 100: Survey of Zoology
Satisfies: Natual Science plus Lab

Getting your general education credits out of the way can be tedious, but some classes are a pleasant surprise from the tedium of gen. ed. Curriculum. The Biological Science 100 level Survey to Zoology class is for everyone who spent their youth trip to Disney World enthralled with The Animal Kingdom. This lecture and lab course covers the miniscule molecular makeup of the Kingdom Animalia and the greater characteristics and classifications of different animal species.

Courtesy of: weber.edu

It can be a lot of information, but the labs are well directed and get this, the class extra credit is an information scavenger hunt at the Milwaukee Zoo. Many have had much worse e.c. plights. Highly reminiscent of high school anatomy classes, fetal pig dissections and cells under microscopes are abundant. With any luck, you may even develop an epic Edward and Bella like romance with your lab partner while examining the various stages of mitosis.

-Analise Pruni

Hmong 265: Hmong Americans: History, Culture, and Contemporary Life
Satisfies: Cultural Diversity, Social Science

Although an incredibly visible minority on campus, broader understanding of Hmong history is largely unknown to those who have limited knowledge of America’s involvement in the Vietnam War. This small, albeit resilient Southeast Asian ethnic group’s origins take root in China, and “Hmong 265” takes a chronological approach from this point forward. The class’s syllabus starts from the earliest exodus of the Hmong into the foothills of Northern Vietnam and Laos, through the colonialism period in Indochina, and into the life in modern Hmong America.

A fairly large portion of this course deals with the Vietnam War and the subsequent “Secret War in Laos,” which lasted from 1961-1975. This decades old cover-up operation by the United States government, and its eventual bloody aftermath in Laos, led to a diaspora which has brought thousands of Hmong refugees to the US, many becoming our friends, coworkers, and classmates. Hearing about Cold War politics, especially from the viewpoint of a vulnerable minority, is something applicable in today’s heated foreign policy debates. Some of the most poignant moments in this course however focus less on the historical aspects of the Hmong population and more on their customs, culture, and religious practices. Shamanism and courting rituals in particular are some of the more fascinating traditions which have been passed down through the generations.

Since this course focuses on the lives of Hmong Americans, a significant portion of the curricula is devoted to learning about contemporary Hmong issues which begin taking shape after their resettlement in the US during the 1970s. Social, educational, and cultural Hmong issues stemming from a lack of understanding and racism have carved out unique narratives which the class explores at length.

-Mac Writt

Peace Studies 201: Introduction to Conflict Resolution and Peace
Satisfies: Social Science

In Peace Studies 201 you finally grasp the full definition of peace. Peace is defined in a way that is easy to understand and even the everyday pessimist can comment upon it as a feasible and fair way of living with one another around the world. The material in the beginning of the class is a little dull, but once you get passed the dry definitive chapters it transforms in to a class where you feel like you have the ability to make a great change in the world. In the classroom setting there is a steady flow of readings and it is heavily discussion based. The lasting impact from this class was learning about troubled people of the world and then learning about the people who aim to help them.

Kearstin Estrada

JAMS 101: Introduction to Mass Media
Satisfies: Social Science

Why does the Pokémon anime refer to Onigiri as donuts? How is Elvis Presley, The Beatles and Twilight similar? Why is it smart to sell cassette tapes of songs from the TMNT live rock band at Pizza Hut? Can the Teletubbies get any scarier? All of these questions and more can be answered if you take JAMS 101 – Introduction to Media Studies.

This class not only satisfies a Gen Ed requirement for the social sciences, but it also teaches us about the media and its power. Media and the technology that drives it is getting stronger and more prevalent every day, so we need understand all aspects of its production, marketing, and influence on society in order to understand it from a critical eye.

“Media is something that we all understand very intuitively because we’ve been paying attention to it all our lives,” said Professor Michael Newman, who teaches the class for the Spring semester. “But there’s a way of being critical and analytical about media and understanding how it functions in business and understanding how it functions as a way that citizens and communities get their ideas and interact with one another that I think we can understand better by studying than just by being consumers. I think to really understand our modern world we need to understand the media.”

Jack Fennimore

For more general education classes offered at UWM, check out and use this advanced search to find specific classes for specific GERs. With these classes filling up quickly, may the odds be ever in your favor.

Fitch Rates $1.1B California GOs 'A+'; Outlook Stable

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Fitch Ratings assigns an ‘A+’ to the following general obligation (GO)
bonds of the state of California:

–$105.355 million federally taxable various purpose GO bonds;

–$996.2 million tax-exempt various purpose GO refunding bonds.

The bonds will be sold via competitive bid on April 21, 2015.

The Rating Outlook is Stable.

SECURITY

General obligations, for which the state pledges its full faith and
credit, subject to the prior application of moneys to the support of
public education; funds for education represent approximately half of
state spending.

KEY RATING DRIVERS

IMPROVED FISCAL FUNDAMENTALS: The rating reflects continued improvement
in the state’s fundamental fiscal position. Institutionalized changes to
fiscal operations in recent years, when combined with the ongoing
economic and revenue recovery, have enabled the state to materially
improve its financial position, enhancing its ability to address future
fiscal challenges. Progress includes timely, more structurally sound
budgets, spending restraint, continued sizable reductions in budgetary
debt, and initial funding of reserves.

WEALTHY, DIVERSE ECONOMY: The economy is wealthy and unmatched among
U.S. states in its size and diversity. After severe, widespread
recessionary conditions, growth has resumed, including in California’s
housing market.

MODERATE DEBT BURDEN: Tax-supported debt is moderate, although combined
debt and pension liabilities are above the median for states. Pension
funded ratios declined following the downturn and there is a history of
inadequate contributions to the teachers’ system; however, the state has
instituted some benefit reforms and the fiscal 2015 enacted budget
provides the first installment of a long-term plan to increase
contributions to the teacher’s system.

CYCLICAL REVENUES AND CASH FLOWS: With economic recovery and associated
revenue growth, liquidity has improved significantly and no cash-flow
issuance is currently expected for fiscal 2016. State finances have been
subject to periodic, severe budget and cash flow crises due to economic
and revenue cyclicality and historical institutional inflexibility. The
state expanded its ability to manage cash flow weakness during the last
downturn, which can be expected to make the effects of future downturns
more manageable.

TANGIBLE STRUCTURAL PROGRESS: Deep recurring spending cuts in recent
adopted budgets, a restrained approach to restoring past cuts, and
healthy revenue growth have eliminated the state’s structural imbalance.
Further, the state is applying revenue growth to eliminating the heavy
burden of budgetary borrowing from the last two fiscal crises, enhancing
its fundamental financial flexibility.

INITIATIVES LIMIT FLEXIBILITY: Voter initiatives have reduced the
state’s discretion to effectively manage budgetary challenges over time.
However, more recent initiatives authorizing a simple legislative
majority to approve spending and temporarily raising tax revenues have
been instrumental to current fiscal progress.

RATING SENSITIVITIES

CONTINUED FISCAL DISCIPLINE: The rating is sensitive to the continuation
of the state’s recent budgetary discipline and its ability and
willingness to continue progress on reducing budgetary borrowing and
maintaining structural balance.

CREDIT PROFILE

Fitch’s ‘A+’ rating on California’s GO bonds reflects the institutional
improvements made by the state in recent years, its disciplined approach
to achieving and maintaining structural balance in recent budgets, and
the consequent fiscal progress made to date by the state as it recovers
from the severe budgetary and cash flow crisis of 2008-2009.

Recent fiscal management improvements remain untested by a severe
recessionary event, but in Fitch’s view the state is in a materially
improved position to address future economic and revenue cyclicality,
and the state’s finances are likely to further strengthen assuming the
current expansion and budgetary discipline continue. However,
California’s credit standing is likely to remain lower than most states
given its comparatively lower fiscal flexibility, driven by revenue
limitations, the initiative process, spending formulas for education,
and other factors that remain unchanged. Key credit strengths include
the state’s massive, diverse economy and tax base.

FISCAL IMPROVEMENT

Notable improvements since the fiscal crisis of 2008 – 2009 have
included a voter-approved change that allows simple majority budget
approval, various cash flow management tools that contribute to enhanced
liquidity, and the passage of a constitutional amendment in November
2014 that strengthens the funding mechanism of the budget stabilization
account (BSA) and provides the state with a means to better manage
revenue cyclicality. Successive years of timely budgets that have
achieved and maintained structural gains primarily through deep,
recurring spending cuts as well as voter-approved temporary taxes have
positioned the state to make steady progress repaying past budgetary
borrowing. Fitch believes that these improvements, supported by an
expanding economy that is generating revenues at a pace that is
exceeding the state’s forecasts, have strengthened California’s
fundamental credit profile.

INCREASED FLEXIBILITY

A key element that will provide future flexibility is the significant
reduction in budgetary borrowing that accumulated as the state worked to
balance the budget over the course of the two most recent recessions. At
its peak, the state’s budgetary borrowing totaled approximately $35
billion, including outstanding debt in the form of the Economic Recovery
Bonds (ERBs), payment deferrals to schools and local governments,
payroll shifts between fiscal years, and interfund borrowing.

The temporarily higher personal income tax (PIT) and sales tax rate
changes approved by voters in November 2012, while exposing the state to
sharper revenue volatility, provide the state with a margin of cash and
revenue flexibility to sustain recent progress, assuming the state
continues to exercise spending restraint. The state has utilized these
additional revenues to rapidly repay budgetary borrowing, including
effectively retiring the ERBs at the beginning of the next fiscal year
(fiscal 2016). It is important to note that by focusing the use of
temporary taxes on debt reduction, the state is better positioned to
maintain budgetary balance as the tax increases expire.

Another source of financial flexibility is expected to come from the
improved mechanism for funding the BSA. Voters approved a constitutional
amendment in November 2014 that requires 1.5% of general fund revenues,
plus the excess of capital gains tax receipts above 8% of general fund
tax revenue, not necessary to fund Proposition 98, be set aside at the
beginning of each fiscal year in the BSA. Half of each year’s deposit
for the next 15 years will be used for supplemental payments toward
budgetary debt or other long-term liabilities, with the balance retained
in the BSA. This latter provision covering capital gains revenue is
likely to contain one of the key drivers of general fund revenue
volatility during the last two fiscal crises. The state deposited $1.6
billion in the BSA at the beginning of the current fiscal year, based on
the then existing provisions of Proposition 58.

ECONOMIC RECOVERY GAINING MOMENTUM

California’s economy is unmatched in size and diversity, and the economy
is gaining momentum across most sectors and regions. Although
California’s job losses during the recession exceeded the U.S. median,
its recovery has exceeded the U.S. as well.

As of February, non-farm employment had reached 103.2% of its
pre-recession peak, above the U.S. median of 102%. Employment growth has
been outpacing the nation’s during the current expansion with non-farm
employment up 3.2% year-over-year in February 2015, well above the 2.3%
national rate. Employment gains are widespread, particularly in key
service sectors, and construction employment is expanding (+6.5% in
February) as the housing sector recovers.

California’s unemployment rate has fallen considerably, to 6.7% in
February 2015 vs. 8.0% one year earlier, although it remains elevated
relative to the nation’s 5.5% unemployment rate; this is consistent with
historical trend. Personal income growth has generally matched the
national and regional averages over the past year and California ranks
11th among the states in terms of per capita personal income at 108.2%
of the national average.

The state’s latest economic outlook, released with the governor’s budget
proposal in January 2015, foresees continued moderate improvement in the
economy; unemployment declining but still higher than the national rate;
and continued recovery in the housing market. Personal income is
forecast to grow 5.3% in 2016.

IMPROVED BUDGET OUTLOOK

The state has adopted four consecutive budgets on a timely basis, a
marked contrast to historical behavior, and one that reflects the
benefit of the change to requiring a simple majority to enact a budget.
Recent budgets have prioritized shoring up finances, including through
prudent control of spending and budgetary debt repayment. Only four
years ago, the state faced a cumulative operating gap of $26.6 billion,
equivalent to 15.3% of baseline fiscal 2011 and 2012 general fund
revenues. Since then, economic and revenue gains, the state’s
disciplined approach to limiting spending growth, and voter approval in
2012 of temporary personal income and sales tax increases have enabled
the state to move to structural budget balance while repaying billions
in past budgetary borrowing.

The adopted budget for the current year, fiscal 2015, avoided restoring
the deep spending cuts, repaid an additional $10.4 billion of budgetary
debt, was expected to leave a $1.4 billion cumulative general fund
balance, and deposits $1.6 billion to the state’s rainy day fund, the
first deposit since fiscal 2008. Another $1.6 billion was expected to
further reduce budgetary borrowing, including deferred payments to
school districts and local governments.

Strong revenue performance is continuing in fiscal 2015, with general
fund revenues through February $633 million above even the upwardly
revised November 2014 forecast used for the governor’s fiscal 2016
budget proposal, although this is in part due to timing of receipt of
sales tax revenues. Strong PIT and corporate tax receipts offset
slightly weaker than anticipated sales and use tax revenues during the
first half of the fiscal year. The governor’s budget proposal for fiscal
2016 assumes that fiscal 2015 revenues will ultimately be $2.6 billion
higher than originally assumed in the fiscal 2015 adopted budget, with
these increased revenues absorbed by additional payments to schools and
higher costs of Medi-Cal.

The governor’s budget proposal for fiscal 2016 assumes continued
economic growth and steady revenue gains through fiscal 2016. The budget
as proposed is balanced and continues the emphasis on reducing
outstanding budgetary borrowing. It continues to restrain budgetary
growth, repays budgetary debt including making the final payment for the
economic recovery bonds (ERBs), and makes a second consecutive deposit
to the BSF. A revised budget proposal is expected in May.

DEBT AND PENSIONS

California has a moderate but above-average debt burden, with net
tax-supported debt of approximately $89 billion as of January 1, 2015
(not including the current issuance), equal to 4.9% of 2013 personal
income. Debt and pension liabilities combined at 8.3% are above the
state median of 6.1%, ranking the state 31st.

System-wide funded ratios on a reported basis for the state’s two main
pension systems, covering public employees and teachers, eroded due to
investment losses during the recession. Based on its June 30, 2013
financial report, the public employees’ plan reported an 83.1%
system-wide actuarial funded ratio. As of its June 30, 2014 financial
report, the teachers’ plan reported a 76.5% system-wide ratio of assets
to liabilities (reflecting GASB 67 requirements). Using Fitch’s more
conservative 7% discount rate assumption, the most recent ratios for the
two systems fall to 78.8% for public employees and 72.5% for teachers.

The state adopted a broad package of pension reforms in 2012 that affect
most state and local systems, including through benefit reductions for
new workers and higher contributions for employees. While changes are
expected to generate only modest near-term annual savings for the state
and for local governments whose pension plans are subject to the
reforms, annual savings are expected to grow considerably over time.

Full actuarial contributions to the public employees’ system are legally
required, but not for the teachers’ system, leading to persistent
underfunding of the latter. The state addressed teachers’ system funding
with legislation enacted in June 2014. The legislation gradually
increases contribution requirements, in particular from school
districts, with the first installment funded in the fiscal 2015 budget,
and expects that it will be fully funded by 2046.

Net tax-supported debt excludes cash flow borrowing; the state issued
$2.8 billion in revenue anticipation notes for fiscal 2015 cash flow
needs, well below that of prior years, reflecting the state’s
substantially improved fiscal position. The governor’s budget proposal
does not anticipate the need for cash flow issuance during fiscal 2016.

Additional information is available at ‘www.fitchratings.com‘.

In addition to the sources of information identified in the
Tax-Supported Rating Criteria, this action was additionally informed by
information from IHS Global Insight.

Applicable Criteria and Related Research:

–‘Tax-Supported Rating Criteria’ (Aug. 14, 2012);

–‘U.S. State Government Tax-Supported Rating Criteria’ (Aug. 14, 2012).

Applicable Criteria and Related Research:

Tax-Supported Rating Criteria

http://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/reports/report_frame.cfm?rpt_id=686015

U.S. State Government Tax-Supported Rating Criteria

http://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/reports/report_frame.cfm?rpt_id=686033

Additional Disclosure

Solicitation Status

http://www.fitchratings.com/gws/en/disclosure/solicitation?pr_id=982909

ALL FITCH CREDIT RATINGS ARE SUBJECT TO CERTAIN LIMITATIONS AND
DISCLAIMERS. PLEASE READ THESE LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS BY FOLLOWING
THIS LINK: HTTP://FITCHRATINGS.COM/UNDERSTANDINGCREDITRATINGS.
IN ADDITION, RATING DEFINITIONS AND THE TERMS OF USE OF SUCH RATINGS ARE
AVAILABLE ON THE AGENCY’S PUBLIC WEBSITE ‘WWW.FITCHRATINGS.COM‘.
PUBLISHED RATINGS, CRITERIA AND METHODOLOGIES ARE AVAILABLE FROM THIS
SITE AT ALL TIMES. FITCH’S CODE OF CONDUCT, CONFIDENTIALITY, CONFLICTS
OF INTEREST, AFFILIATE FIREWALL, COMPLIANCE AND OTHER RELEVANT POLICIES
AND PROCEDURES ARE ALSO AVAILABLE FROM THE ‘CODE OF CONDUCT’ SECTION OF
THIS SITE. FITCH MAY HAVE PROVIDED ANOTHER PERMISSIBLE SERVICE TO THE
RATED ENTITY OR ITS RELATED THIRD PARTIES. DETAILS OF THIS SERVICE FOR
RATINGS FOR WHICH THE LEAD ANALYST IS BASED IN AN EU-REGISTERED ENTITY
CAN BE FOUND ON THE ENTITY SUMMARY PAGE FOR THIS ISSUER ON THE FITCH
WEBSITE.

Caring Canadian Award Presentation Ceremony

April 13, 2015

Governor General to Present Caring Canadian Award to 49 Volunteers

Ottawa – His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, will present the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award to 49 volunteers from various sectors of society, on Tuesday, April 14, 2015, at 10:30 a.m., during a ceremony at Rideau Hall.

This event marks the 20th anniversary of the creation of the Caring Canadian Award and is part of His Excellency’s program to highlight National Volunteer Week, from April 12 to 18, 2015.

Created in 1995, the Caring Canadian Award recognizes living Canadians and permanent residents who have made a significant, sustained, unpaid contribution to their community, in Canada or abroad. Often working behind the scenes, these individuals volunteer their time and efforts to help their fellow citizens. The award also brings to light the example set by volunteers, whose compassion and engagement are a part of our Canadian character. For more information or to nominate a deserving volunteer, visit www.gg.ca/caring.

The ceremony schedule, the list of recipients and their citations, and a fact sheet on the award are attached.

-30-

Media wishing to cover this event are requested to confirm their attendance with the Rideau Hall Press Office, and must arrive at the Princess Anne entrance no later than 10:15 a.m. on the day of the ceremony.

Media information

Marie-Pierre Bélanger
Rideau Hall Press Office
613-998-9166
marie-pierre.belanger@gg.ca

Follow GGDavidJohnston and RideauHall on Facebook and Twitter.

Ceremony Schedule

10:30 a.m.:Ceremony beginsRemarks by the Governor GeneralGovernor General presents the Caring Canadian Award11:30 a.m.:Ceremony ends11:40 a.m.:Interviews with recipients

Recipients

Recipients’ Citations

Aklilu Afowerk
Ottawa, Ontario

Aklilu Afowerk has been volunteering in the Ottawa community for over 20 years, looking after the well-being of the elderly and infirm. For example, he regularly drives a gentleman with a heart condition to visit his wife in a chronic care facility, and, at his synagogue, he helps a congregant with ALS participate in the service.

Melissa Batchilder
Georgetown, Prince Edward Island

Passionate about education and learning, Melissa Batchilder was instrumental in saving Georgetown Elementary School from closure due to budget cuts. She donated funds, coordinated the building of a brand new library, and created an annual bursary fund for deserving students to further their education.

Mark Beardsworth
Toronto, Ontario

Mark Beardsworth is an active member of The Beach Group, a Toronto-based unit involved in contributing to, sponsoring and supporting local charitable initiatives. Mark is involved in all organizational aspects of the annual fundraiser for the Hospital for Sick Children/SickKids Foundation, from event planning and ticket sales to obtaining donations for the event.

Phyllis Beaulieu
Saint-Lambert, Quebec

Phyllis Beaulieu fundraises for her church, transports elderly individuals to medical appointments, and offers food and lodging in her own home to families in need. Most of her time is dedicated to volunteering at the Montreal General Hospital, where she offers comfort to patients. 

Blair A. Boone
River Ryan, Nova Scotia

For over 35 years, Blair Boone has focused on the sport of boxing as a referee, judge, president and executive member of the Ring 73 Glace Bay Amateur Boxing Club. He has chaired, organized and fundraised for many boxing events throughout the province and across Canada, including those at the championship level. Outside of boxing, he volunteers with the mine rescue team, the Cape Breton Miner Co-Op, and the New Waterford Fish and Game Association.

Rémi Bouchard
Rivière-Éternité, Quebec

As president of the Corporation de développement économique de Rivière-Éternité, Rémi Bouchard oversaw a project to convert the rectory into an inn, thus creating the municipality’s first hotel. In 2011, Mr. Bouchard had a hand in creating a communal wildlife area to promote lake trout fishing in Ruisseau Benouche and Rivière Éternité.

Maurice Brouillard
Saint-Eugène-de-Grantham, Quebec

Maurice Brouillard has been volunteering as a first responder for 12 years. Twice a week, during his 12-hour on-call shifts, he responds to medical emergencies and situations involving psychological distress in the community.

Paulette Brousseau
Petite-Vallée, Quebec

For over 10 years, Paulette Brousseau has been dedicated to young people and to organizing activities for the Petite Vallée cadet unit. In 2004, she organized the Canadian Forces Snowbirds air show. She also arranged for the RCMP Musical Ride to come to the region between 2006 and 2010. Each year, she takes part in initiatives to promote the well-being of her community. Since 1998, Ms. Brousseau has been a volunteer judo instructor at the Club de Judo Ko-Tani.

Lloyd George Carefoot
Lethbridge, Alberta

For over 47 years, Lloyd Carefoot has promoted the Scout Movement in Lethbridge as a founding member of the 68th Lethbridge Windystone Baden Powell Guild. Additionally, he has been a member of the Lethbridge Independent Order of Foresters since 1969, and a volunteer and director of the Lethbridge Food Bank for over 28 years. He has raised funds for the Canadian Red Cross, the Victorian Order of Nurses, the Canadian Kidney Foundation, CNIB Canada, the Nord‑Bridge Seniors Centre, and the Stirling Railroad Museum Association.

Hannelore Carpenter
Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Quebec

For over 10 years, Hannelore Carpenter has shown dedication, engagement and compassion towards others as a volunteer at the McGill University Health Centre. Her primary focus is on supporting patients waiting for treatment in the Department of Radiation Oncology. She also helps out in the volunteer-run coffee shop.

Marvin Chambers
Fillmore, Saskatchewan

A member of the Fillmore District Lions Club since 1971, Marvin Chambers has been actively involved in working with the blind and visually impaired. He is a proud and dedicated supporter of CNIB Canada, the Canadian Diabetes Association, and other local and national sight-related causes.

George E. Daniels
Dwight, Ontario

George Daniel’s commitment to the environment has been demonstrated by his 40 years of volunteer work. In 1985, he co-founded the Lake of Bays’ Heritage Foundation, which is dedicated to the protection of both natural and cultural heritage. He also helped to establish the Andrew Daniels Fish Stewardship Fund in order to protect local fish populations and their aquatic habitats.

Huguette Dubé
Saint-Honoré-de-Témiscouata, Quebec

Huguette Dubé is actively involved in her community’s development. She has been running the Villa Saint-Honoré, a non-profit seniors’ residence serving Saint-Honoré-de-Témiscouata and the surrounding area, since it first opened its doors in 1988. Since 1977, she has been overseeing the maintenance and public rental of the community hall.

George Windsor Ford
Edmonton, Alberta

George Ford has always been an active volunteer, and remains dedicated to serving his church through outreach work, ushering, and serving communion. He also coordinates community dinners as part of the Robertson-Wesley United Church community, and prepares and distributes food hampers to those in need as part of the Church Magic Pantry.

Sylvain Fortin
Laval, Quebec

For over 15 years, Sylvain Fortin has served as president of the Société québécoise de la Trisomie-21. His compassion for individuals with Down syndrome is remarkable. He devotes his time to creating a warm atmosphere at a home adapted for adults with disabilities, where both day activities and full-time residential care are offered. Mr. Fortin is recognized for his humanity, dedication and generosity.

Richard Gooderham
Perth, Ontario

Richard Gooderham keeps the Table Community Food Centre running smoothly. Several times a week, he makes the long trek in from his home outside of town to help out in the drop-in kitchens and perform other odd jobs around the building. He is also a member of the Social Justice Club, and participates in its FREE HUGS campaigns. 

Richard Gratton
Beaconsfield, Quebec

For the past three years, Richard Gratton has been working to create a park that would honour the contributions and sacrifices made by past and present military personnel, law enforcement agents, firefighters, first responders and paramedics. With the support of the Beaconsfield community and a team of volunteers, he formed the non-profit and non-partisan Heroes Park committee. Under his leadership, and with the support of funding from individuals, businesses and corporations, as well as military, law enforcement and community leaders, the committee has raised $250,000 to bring the project to life.

Shawn Hutchinson
Nepean, Ontario

Passionate about environmental sustainability and our Canadian wilderness, Shawn Hutchinson has been volunteering with the Rideau Trail Association for over 14 years. Through her work, she promotes a greater appreciation for nature and the outstanding health benefits it offers. At the Aphasia Centre of Ottawa, she guides clients through rehabilitation and recovery, and also offers to drive hospital patients to their appointments.

Saul Jacobson
Kanata, Ontario

The voice of several Ottawa radio stations for over 30 years, Saul Jacobson gives back to the community through his love for music and radio. For the past 12 years, he has been a volunteer music director at Broadview Avenue Public School, where he helps kids reach their full potential. He has instilled a love of jazz music in hundreds of students who have participated in the Grade 8 jazz band.

Renu Kapoor
Regina, Saskatchewan

Driven by her interest in multiculturalism and diversity, Renu Kapoor has been active in her community for the last 45 years. Her volunteer activities extend to such organizations as the Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse, the Regina Public Library, the Regina Housing Authority, SaskCulture, the Regina Chapter of Osteoporosis Canada, the Regina and Area Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and the India Canada Association. Since 2010, she has served as a volunteer board member with the South Saskatchewan Community Foundation.

Bushra Khan
Ottawa, Ontario

Bushra Khan is dedicated to helping youth excel. She is a devoted member of the development committee behind the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board’s Community of Character, which has since been adopted into the Board’s Code of Conduct Policy. For the past five years, Ms. Khan has been an energetic co-chair of the Spirit of the Capital Youth Awards, which funds over 80 scholarships and has raised over $60,000 for Youth Ottawa.

Manwar Khan
Edmonton, Alberta

Manwar Khan is dedicated to raising public awareness of bullying across Alberta. He has launched a province-wide anti-bullying campaign that aims at empowering bystanders to intervene in a safe way. He travels across the province to organize and speak at rallies, assemblies and candlelight vigils. He has been recognized for his work to empower both victims of bullying and bystanders.

Alfred King
Oxford, Nova Scotia

Alfred King has been an inspiration to youth for more than 40 years. He has volunteered with the Cadet Movement, served as a 4-H leader, and taught first aid training to youth groups. He has also served in many executive roles with the Royal Canadian Legion, and was a member and chair of the Cumberland County board of the Nova Scotia Crime Stoppers. In his spare time, he coaches the high school basketball team and organizes their tournaments.

Natasha Kornak
Calgary, Alberta

Seventeen-year-old Natasha Kornak is a model of student leadership. She is an active volunteer with Ronald McDonald House, the Gay Straight Alliance, Mustard Seed, Kristen Lee Coutts Memorial, Bully Free Alberta, and Free the Children. Through her efforts, she is giving back to her community and encouraging others to do the same.

Chris Kulak
Vernon, British Columbia

Chris Kulak is a volunteer with the B.C. Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund. His efforts and hard work over the years have advanced the fund’s visibility both locally and provincially, ensuring greater support for burn victims and survivors. He also volunteers with Muscular Dystrophy Canada, and has helped with the Salvation Army’s Christmas Kettle Campaign and with operations at his local food bank.

Patricia Lafford
Sackville, New Brunswick

A registered nurse by profession, Patricia Lafford is dedicated to serving her community and her church. She is one of the founding members of the Sackville Food Bank and has been lending her time there for more than 26 years. She has been a devoted member of the Catholic Women’s League for more than 40 years, where she offers counselling to shut-ins of all ages.

Jo-Ann Elizabeth Leavey
London, Ontario

A dedicated volunteer since the age of 17, Jo-Ann Leavey is the founder of the Hometeam Foundation, a registered charity that provides leadership opportunities for at-risk youth. Ms. Leavey is also a psychologist who shares her research on youth mental health, stigma reduction and person-centred health care delivery in 12 countries. 

Kelly Morgan Lewis
Hanna, Alberta

Kelly Lewis is passionate about protecting the environment. For the past 25 years, he has been involved with Ducks Unlimited, a non-profit organization dedicated to wetland conservation. He has served as its provincial chairman for the last two years. A dedicated teacher, he engages his students through his long-standing participation in a program that promotes safe hunting skills.

Yvon Meloche
Drummondville, Quebec

Yvon Meloche gives generously of his time and energy to his community. A retired paramedic, he launched the Saint Eugène-de-Grantham first responders program in 1996, with which he volunteered until 2010. He initiated a supervisory committee in 2007 that works in conjunction with the Sûreté du Québec to prevent crime, and currently oversees its operations.

Carol Mooney
Sainte-Catherine-de-Hatley, Quebec

Carol Mooney has been volunteering since 2002. She worked with a Canadian team to establish a faculty of education in post-war Kosovo and introduce a new teaching style for Kosovar educators to implement in their classrooms. She is also the co-president of Lampe Foundation, which raises funds to help students in the Eastern Townships further their education. Since 2012, she has worked with others to establish the Centre de santé de la Vallée Massawippi, which will bring much-needed doctors and health care to this under-serviced rural community.

Joanne Moss
Winchester, Ontario

For the last 20 years, Joanne Moss has dedicated herself to helping those facing difficult physical and emotional circumstances. Through her animal support program, she helps autistic children find relief by riding ponies, and provides civilian and military personnel suffering from
post-traumatic stress disorder with service dogs.

Don Neufeld
Edmonton, Alberta

After retiring as assistant auditor general of Alberta, Don Neufeld poured all of his knowledge and expertise into Habitat Edmonton, with which he has been involved since 1992. The organization moved from serving one family a year to serving 56 families in 2012, and 81 families in 2013. In 1998, he volunteered as a full-time accountant and was responsible for Habitat Edmonton’s financial reporting, banking, taxation issues and ad hoc reporting requirements. In 2008, he then devoted his time to managing Habitat Edmonton’s information technology needs, which included networking systems at four separate locations.

Raymond Paquin
Montréal, Quebec

Raymond Paquin created the Fondation de l’Hôpital Marie-Clarac in 1996. In 2011, he spearheaded a fundraising campaign to raise $35 million to build the hospital’s new palliative care pavilion. For 20 years, whether with the foundation or as a member of the hospital’s board of directors, Mr. Paquin has helped to improve the health of his fellow citizens.

Claude Poirier
Montréal, Quebec

Claude Poirier has been actively involved in his parish’s activities and within his community for nearly 50 years. He volunteers for a number of organizations, including La Maison des Grands-Parents de Villeray, a non-profit organization that he helped to establish; the Regroupement des Auberges du Coeur du Québec; and the Club Richelieu. He is dedicated to promoting mental health and early intervention in the Youth Net program.

Christian Robillard
Ottawa, Ontario

Christian Robillard is deeply involved in his community and inspires others to contribute. He is the president of the Off-Campus Student Association for Carleton University, the co-chair of the university’s Student Philanthropy Council, and the student coordinator for the Ottawa Police Youth in Policing Initiative.

Peter Piara Samra
Merritt, British Columbia

For the past 27 years, Peter Samra has been involved in several civic, humanitarian, social and educational causes in the Merritt community, notably with the City of Merritt and Rotary Club programs, the Nicola Valley and District Food Bank, and the Merritt Central School. He has promoted equality and youth involvement as both a member and vice-president of the Merritt Sikh Society and as an Indo-Canadian liaison and volunteer within the community. From working with prominent organizations to tutoring students in math, Mr. Samra’s volunteerism has been appreciated by many.

Lillian Eva Smith
Ottawa, Ontario

For more than 35 years, Lillian Smith has been volunteering for various worthy community initiatives in Canada and in developing countries by helping to raise funds for health care, palliative care, education, single mothers and children in need. She has worked closely with the Kiwanianne Club of Ottawa, Club Mont Sainte-Marie, the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, the May Court Club of Ottawa, the Hospice at May Court and the Canadian Nurses Foundation. 

Paul Surprenant
Chelsea, Quebec

Paul Surprenant is a generous man who is ready to help others. When he retired in 2001, he turned his attention to volunteerism and joined the Carrefour jeunesse emploi de l’Outaouais, where he helps young people enter the workforce. He oversaw the renovation of two Soupe populaire de Hull inc. service centres, as well as the purchase of adjoining lands to erect a new service centre for the less fortunate in his community. 

J. F. Donald Tedford
Grand Bend, Ontario

Donald Tedford has demonstrated his commitment to volunteering through his active participation in service clubs for over 50 years, including 15 years with the Lions Club and 30 years with Rotary clubs in Shelbourne, Orangeville and Grand Bend. In 1998, he chaired a
45-member steering committee interested in establishing a community health centre in Grand Bend. Additionally, while living in King City, Mr. Tedford was instrumental in the development of a local arena.

Marcel Thibault
Mont-Laurier, Quebec

Marcel Thibault has been volunteering in the areas of sports and recreation for 60 years. He was a coach for a number of athletic clubs, including bantam, midget and junior hockey. He was also in charge of the Association des coureurs en canot de La Lièvre for 26 years. In addition, Mr. Thibault spent many years helping to organize the community’s Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day festivities. 

Vernon Thuroo
Hanna, Alberta

Vernon Thuroo has volunteered as an instructor with the Hanna Youth Curling Club and as an umpire for Hanna Minor Baseball. He also raises funds for the Hanna Hospital Auxiliary and the Hanna Elks Club. Committed to making higher education accessible to youth, he served as a trustee on the Prairie Land School Board, and as a member of the Hanna Agricultural Society, which gives bursaries to students entering a post-secondary institution.

Bernard Touesnard
Riverview, New Brunswick

Since his retirement in 1977, Bernard Touesnard has volunteered in many organizations, including the Riverview Boys and Girls Club, the Boys and Girls Club of New Brunswick, the Riverview Figure Skating Club, the Knights of Columbus, and the Riverview Lions Club. He also coaches and manages the Riverview Fast Ball League.

James Travers
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

A lawyer by profession, James Travers still finds the time to volunteer. He is active in his church, and contributes to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Foundation, Rotary International, and the Confederation of the Arts. He has been recognized at the regional and national levels for his work as a board member of the P.E.I. Chapter of the Children’s Wish Foundation.

Laurin and Ruby Trudel
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories and Lloydminster, Alberta

Since 2008, Laurin and Ruby Trudel have been the driving force behind Food Rescue Yellowknife. Thanks to their vision, action and dedication, 1.6 million pounds of food and other items have been diverted from the landfill for processing and redistribution. They have created a model organization with minimal overhead and maximum benefit to the community of Yellowknife.

Bailey Whitehouse
Prescott, Ontario

Bailey Whitehouse has generously given of her time to the Prescott and Brockville branches of the Royal Canadian Legion, the Brockville Art Centre, the Food For All Food Bank, and to Girl Guides and Air Cadets. In 2008, when her close friend needed a heart transplant, she rallied local businesses to raise over $2,500. Sadly, her friend died before receiving the new heart. Despite the loss, Ms. Whitehouse remains steadfast in her efforts to help others.

Terry Wright
Victoria, British Columbia

In 1994, Terry Wright helped lead the XV Commonwealth Games to success in Victoria, British Columbia. This experience helped him learn the value of giving back to his community through his love of sport and major sporting events. He was a key player in Vancouver’s successful bid for the 2010 Olympic Games and continues to lend his expertise to the Canadian Olympic Committee. His volunteer service also extends to the Greater Victoria Hospital Foundation, the Commonwealth Games Foundation of Canada, and Victoria’s Corps des Commissionaires. He has also coached community youth soccer and baseball teams.

Ruslana Wrzesnewskyj
Toronto, Ontario

For over 20 years, Ruslana Wrzesnewskyj has dedicated her life to improving the lives of disadvantaged and orphaned children living in poor conditions in local orphanages in post-Soviet Ukraine. In 1994, she started a non-profit organization called Help Us Help the Children, which delivers immediately tangible humanitarian aid. She has also established long-term programs and funds to help these children successfully transition from the orphanage to the real world.

Chuck Young
Calgary, Alberta

Chuck Young has volunteered for 25 years with the General Mountaineering Camp of the Alpine Club of Canada. As a volunteer leader and club ambassador, he has introduced hundreds of people to the wonders of nature through the sport of mountaineering. He also encourages future leaders and helps to create a vital network of people who uphold and support the club’s values.

The Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award

When the Right Honourable Roméo LeBlanc became Governor General of Canada, he was determined to thank the thousands of caring people who give so much to their fellow citizens—the unsung heroes who volunteer their time, their efforts and a great deal of their lives to helping others, and who ask for nothing in return. In 1995, the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award was created.

The award recognizes individuals who volunteer their time to help others and to build a smarter and more caring nation. The award also highlights the fine example set by these volunteers, whose compassion and engagement are so much a part of our Canadian character.

Eligibility criteria

The award recognizes living Canadians and permanent residents who have made a significant, sustained, unpaid contribution to their community, in Canada or abroad.

Nomination process

Nominations can be made directly via the Governor General of Canada’s website, at www.gg.ca/caring. They will be received by the Chancellery of Honours and reviewed by the advisory committee which will then make recommendations to the governor general. There is no deadline for submissions. Nominations are accepted throughout the year.

Description of the award

The award’s emblem represents Canadians who selflessly give of their time and energy to others. The maple leaf symbolizes the people of Canada and their spirit; the heart depicts the open-heartedness of volunteers; and the outstretched hand portrays boundless generosity. The blue and gold colours, which appear on the viceregal flag, indicate the award’s connection with the governor general.

The Caring Canadian Award, consisting of a letter, a certificate and a lapel pin, is presented by the governor general or by lieutenant governors, territorial commissioners, mayors, members of the Order of Canada or partner organizations. When this is not possible, or if a recipient requests an early presentation for personal reasons, the award will be sent by mail.

Fitch Rates Alabama Public School and College Authority's $130MM Bonds 'AA+'; Outlook Stable

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–

Fitch Ratings assigns an ‘AA+’ rating to the following bonds of the Alabama Public School and College Authority (the authority):

–$34.61 million Capital Improvement Pool Refunding Bonds, series 2015-A;

–$49.985 million Capital Improvement Pool Refunding Bonds, series 2015-B;

–$45.785 million Capital Improvement Pool Bonds, series 2015-C.

The bonds are expected to sell via negotiation on or about April 16, 2015.

The Rating Outlook is Stable.

SECURITY

The bonds are limited obligations payable from pledged revenues, including utility taxes and sales and use taxes. Each bond series is subordinate to prior issues; once issued, the 2015-A, B, and C bonds will occupy the 15th lien position respecting the pledged revenues.

KEY RATING DRIVERS

PRIMARY STATE FUNCTION: Although not a general obligation (GO) pledge, pledged revenues include major state revenue sources, including the sales tax, and finance a major state responsibility – K-12 and higher education. As such, the bonds are rated on par with the state’s GO bonds. Financing of education is centralized at the state level.

STRONG DEBT SERVICE COVERAGE: Pledged revenues provide ample coverage of debt service requirements both on an annual and maximum annual basis.

SPENDING CONTROLS: Balanced financial operations reflect the statutory requirement to balance the budget with across-the-board appropriation reductions if revenues fall short; debt service is excluded from this requirement.

SLOW GROWTH IN ECONOMY: The trend in Alabama’s economy is toward more diversification although it retains a sizeable manufacturing base. There is an ongoing positive shift from low paying textile and apparel jobs to higher paying durable subsectors including automobile and aerospace manufacturing.

RATING SENSITIVITIES

CHANGE IN STATE GO RATING: Although not specifically linked to the GO bond rating, a change in the overall credit environment in the state would likely lead to a change in the PSCA rating.

REDUCTION IN DEBT SERVICE COVERAGE: The rating is sensitive to changes in debt service coverage, either due to significant fluctuation in pledged revenues, excessive leveraging of the pledged revenues, or statutory changes that reduce pledged revenues.

CREDIT PROFILE

The rating reflects ample coverage of debt service by pledged revenues, the strength of the pledged revenues, which include major state revenue sources, and the core nature of the activities being financed (K-12 and higher education) as well as the strong budget controls exhibited by the state and its overall strong credit quality.

The authority provides capital financing for public education in Alabama, and, with $2.2 billion of debt outstanding (as of Jan. 1, 2015), is the most active debt issuer of the several authorities that issue debt in the state. The authority members are the governor, the state superintendent of education, and the director of finance, indicating the importance of this financing mechanism and the role of the state in education.

BROAD BASED TAXES ARE PLEDGED

The bonds are a limited obligation of the authority payable from pledged revenues, which include statewide sales, use, utility gross receipts and utility service use taxes. Pledged revenues not needed for debt service are deposited into the state Treasury to the credit of the Education Trust Fund (ETF), a special fund of the state that is the largest operating fund into which taxes and revenues are deposited. The ETF funds K-12 and higher education as well as smaller education, health, library and other programs. Each bond series has its own separate lien on pledged revenues subordinate to prior issues; once issued, the 2015-A, B, and C bonds will occupy a 15th lien position respecting the pledged revenues. Given the ample coverage of debt service by pledged revenues, discussed further below, the subordinate status is not a rating factor.

While the authority bonds are not general obligations of the state, the rating does reflect the state’s general credit quality as pledged revenues include major state revenue sources and finance a central state responsibility. Alabama has extensive earmarking of taxes and uses special obligations for nearly all of its capital needs. The general fund has a minor role in state operations and only a modest amount of debt issued against it. State general obligation bonds are rated ‘AA+’ by Fitch based on the state’s longer-term trend toward a more diversified economy despite a severe recessionary downturn in manufacturing, strong spending controls that contribute to balanced operations, and manageable debt levels.

AMPLE DEBT SERVICE COVERAGE

Pledged revenues provide ample coverage of debt service requirements both on an annual and maximum annual basis. Fiscal year 2014 revenues of $2.2 billion provide 8.5x coverage of maximum annual debt service. Pledged revenue declined modestly (-3.6%) in fiscal 2013 as anticipated, reflecting modest growth in revenues offset by a new school voucher related tax credit associated with the Alabama Accountability Act. Revenues rebounded with relatively strong 4.6% growth in fiscal 2014.

The series 2015-A and B bonds are being issued to refund outstanding debt for present value savings. The 2015-C bonds will finance loans to local school boards for capital projects under a pooled approach that allows capital funds of the state to be leveraged rather than being limited to support pay as you go financing. The authority also issues capital outlay bonds for capital improvements to public schools and institutions of higher education with proceeds considered grants to recipients. Overall debt levels in the state are at the low end of the moderate range, with tax supported debt equal to 2.2% of 2013 personal income.

STRONG FINANCIAL CONTROLS

State financial operations, including the ETF, benefit from strong spending controls, with a constitutional requirement to make across-the-board appropriation reductions, called ‘proration,’ when a deficit is projected in one of several funds. Debt service is not subject to proration. This device has been implemented several times, particularly through the most recent recession. The state generated a sizeable surplus in the ETF in fiscal 2013, allowing it to make a $330 million repayment to the rainy day fund at the end of the year. It is on schedule to repay the draw on the rainy day fund by the end of fiscal 2015.

In an attempt to minimize the unpredictability of mid-year reductions in education funding, in 2011, the state enacted legislation to create a new budget stabilization fund for education that will be used to offset future proration. The legislation limits future education appropriations to the 15-year rolling average of ETF revenues and deposits any excess revenues into a new ETF budget stabilization fund, after first repaying the fiscal 2009 draw on the rainy day fund.

MANUFACTURING BASED ECONOMY

Alabama’s economy was historically dominated by agriculture, natural resource extraction, and manufacturing, including textiles and iron and steel production. Today, the state still depends more heavily on manufacturing relative to the national average, but manufacturing has shifted away from textiles and apparel, particularly to the automotive sector. This sector was hard hit in the recent recession, but the foreign-owned automakers in the state, including Honda, Hyundai, and Daimler AG, continue to invest and produce in Alabama.

Alabama’s labor market has been slow to emerge from the recession and has lagged the nation since in job creation. As of February, non-farm employment had reached just 96.5% of its pre-recession peak, below the U.S. median of 102% and one of the weakest of the states. Most recently, non-farm employment grew 2% in February 2015, while employment nationally grew 2.3%. The unemployment rate, which is typically lower than the U.S. rate, remains slightly above the national rate at 5.8%.

For further information on Alabama’s GO rating, please see Fitch’s press release from July 22, 2014, ‘Fitch Rates Alabama GOS ‘AA+’; Outlook Stable’, available at ‘www.fitchratings.com‘.

Additional information is available at ‘www.fitchratings.com‘.

In addition to the sources of information identified in Fitch’s Tax-Supported Rating Criteria, this action was additionally informed by information from IHS Global Insight.

Applicable Criteria and Related Research:

–‘Tax-Supported Rating Criteria’ (Aug. 14, 2012);

–‘U.S. State Government Tax-Supported Rating Criteria’ (Aug. 14, 2012).

Applicable Criteria and Related Research:

Tax-Supported Rating Criteria

http://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/reports/report_frame.cfm?rpt_id=686015

U.S. State Government Tax-Supported Rating Criteria

http://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/reports/report_frame.cfm?rpt_id=686033

Additional Disclosure

Solicitation Status

http://www.fitchratings.com/gws/en/disclosure/solicitation?pr_id=982863

ALL FITCH CREDIT RATINGS ARE SUBJECT TO CERTAIN LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS. PLEASE READ THESE LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS BY FOLLOWING THIS LINK: HTTP://FITCHRATINGS.COM/UNDERSTANDINGCREDITRATINGS. IN ADDITION, RATING DEFINITIONS AND THE TERMS OF USE OF SUCH RATINGS ARE AVAILABLE ON THE AGENCY’S PUBLIC WEBSITE ‘WWW.FITCHRATINGS.COM‘. PUBLISHED RATINGS, CRITERIA AND METHODOLOGIES ARE AVAILABLE FROM THIS SITE AT ALL TIMES. FITCH’S CODE OF CONDUCT, CONFIDENTIALITY, CONFLICTS OF INTEREST, AFFILIATE FIREWALL, COMPLIANCE AND OTHER RELEVANT POLICIES AND PROCEDURES ARE ALSO AVAILABLE FROM THE ‘CODE OF CONDUCT’ SECTION OF THIS SITE. FITCH MAY HAVE PROVIDED ANOTHER PERMISSIBLE SERVICE TO THE RATED ENTITY OR ITS RELATED THIRD PARTIES. DETAILS OF THIS SERVICE FOR RATINGS FOR WHICH THE LEAD ANALYST IS BASED IN AN EU-REGISTERED ENTITY CAN BE FOUND ON THE ENTITY SUMMARY PAGE FOR THIS ISSUER ON THE FITCH WEBSITE.

Media Advisory

OTTAWA, April 13, 2015 /CNW/ – His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, will present the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award to 49 volunteers from various sectors of society, on Tuesday, April 14, 2015, at 10:30 a.m., during a ceremony at Rideau Hall.

This event marks the 20th anniversary of the creation of the Caring Canadian Award and is part of His Excellency’s program to highlight National Volunteer Week, from April 12 to 18, 2015.

Created in 1995, the Caring Canadian Award recognizes living Canadians and permanent residents who have made a significant, sustained, unpaid contribution to their community, in Canada or abroad. Often working behind the scenes, these individuals volunteer their time and efforts to help their fellow citizens. The award also brings to light the example set by volunteers, whose compassion and engagement are a part of our Canadian character. For more information or to nominate a deserving volunteer, visit www.gg.ca/caring.

The ceremony schedule, the list of recipients and their citations, and a fact sheet on the award are attached.

CEREMONY SCHEDULE

 

 

RECIPIENTS

 

 

RECIPIENTS’ CITATIONS

Aklilu Afowerk
Ottawa, Ontario

Aklilu Afowerk has been volunteering in the Ottawa community for over 20 years, looking after the well-being of the elderly and infirm. For example, he regularly drives a gentleman with a heart condition to visit his wife in a chronic care facility, and, at his synagogue, he helps a congregant with ALS participate in the service.

Melissa Batchilder
Georgetown, Prince Edward Island

Passionate about education and learning, Melissa Batchilder was instrumental in saving Georgetown Elementary School from closure due to budget cuts. She donated funds, coordinated the building of a brand new library, and created an annual bursary fund for deserving students to further their education.

Mark Beardsworth
Toronto, Ontario

Mark Beardsworth is an active member of The Beach Group, a Toronto-based unit involved in contributing to, sponsoring and supporting local charitable initiatives. Mark is involved in all organizational aspects of the annual fundraiser for the Hospital for Sick Children/SickKids Foundation, from event planning and ticket sales to obtaining donations for the event.

Phyllis Beaulieu
Saint-Lambert, Quebec

Phyllis Beaulieu fundraises for her church, transports elderly individuals to medical appointments, and offers food and lodging in her own home to families in need. Most of her time is dedicated to volunteering at the Montreal General Hospital, where she offers comfort to patients. 

Blair A. Boone
River Ryan, Nova Scotia

For over 35 years, Blair Boone has focused on the sport of boxing as a referee, judge, president and executive member of the Ring 73 Glace Bay Amateur Boxing Club. He has chaired, organized and fundraised for many boxing events throughout the province and across Canada, including those at the championship level. Outside of boxing, he volunteers with the mine rescue team, the Cape Breton Miner Co-Op, and the New Waterford Fish and Game Association.

Rémi Bouchard
Rivière-Éternité, Quebec

As president of the Corporation de développement économique de Rivière-Éternité, Rémi Bouchard oversaw a project to convert the rectory into an inn, thus creating the municipality’s first hotel. In 2011, Mr. Bouchard had a hand in creating a communal wildlife area to promote lake trout fishing in Ruisseau Benouche and Rivière Éternité.

Maurice Brouillard
Saint-Eugène-de-Grantham, Quebec

Maurice Brouillard has been volunteering as a first responder for 12 years. Twice a week, during his 12-hour on-call shifts, he responds to medical emergencies and situations involving psychological distress in the community.

Paulette Brousseau
Petite-Vallée, Quebec

For over 10 years, Paulette Brousseau has been dedicated to young people and to organizing activities for the Petite Vallée cadet unit. In 2004, she organized the Canadian Forces Snowbirds air show. She also arranged for the RCMP Musical Ride to come to the region between 2006 and 2010. Each year, she takes part in initiatives to promote the well-being of her community. Since 1998, Ms. Brousseau has been a volunteer judo instructor at the Club de Judo Ko-Tani.

Lloyd George Carefoot
Lethbridge, Alberta

For over 47 years, Lloyd Carefoot has promoted the Scout Movement in Lethbridge as a founding member of the 68th Lethbridge Windystone Baden Powell Guild. Additionally, he has been a member of the Lethbridge Independent Order of Foresters since 1969, and a volunteer and director of the Lethbridge Food Bank for over 28 years. He has raised funds for the Canadian Red Cross, the Victorian Order of Nurses, the Canadian Kidney Foundation, CNIB Canada, the Nord‑Bridge Seniors Centre, and the Stirling Railroad Museum Association.

Hannelore Carpenter
Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Quebec

For over 10 years, Hannelore Carpenter has shown dedication, engagement and compassion towards others as a volunteer at the McGill University Health Centre. Her primary focus is on supporting patients waiting for treatment in the Department of Radiation Oncology. She also helps out in the volunteer-run coffee shop.

Marvin Chambers
Fillmore, Saskatchewan

A member of the Fillmore District Lions Club since 1971, Marvin Chambers has been actively involved in working with the blind and visually impaired. He is a proud and dedicated supporter of CNIB Canada, the Canadian Diabetes Association, and other local and national sight-related causes.

George E. Daniels
Dwight, Ontario

George Daniel’s commitment to the environment has been demonstrated by his 40 years of volunteer work. In 1985, he co-founded the Lake of Bays’ Heritage Foundation, which is dedicated to the protection of both natural and cultural heritage. He also helped to establish the Andrew Daniels Fish Stewardship Fund in order to protect local fish populations and their aquatic habitats.

Huguette Dubé
Saint-Honoré-de-Témiscouata, Quebec

Huguette Dubé is actively involved in her community’s development. She has been running the Villa Saint-Honoré, a non-profit seniors’ residence serving Saint-Honoré-de-Témiscouata and the surrounding area, since it first opened its doors in 1988. Since 1977, she has been overseeing the maintenance and public rental of the community hall.

George Windsor Ford
Edmonton, Alberta

George Ford has always been an active volunteer, and remains dedicated to serving his church through outreach work, ushering, and serving communion. He also coordinates community dinners as part of the Robertson-Wesley United Church community, and prepares and distributes food hampers to those in need as part of the Church Magic Pantry.

Sylvain Fortin
Laval, Quebec

For over 15 years, Sylvain Fortin has served as president of the Société québécoise de la Trisomie-21. His compassion for individuals with Down syndrome is remarkable. He devotes his time to creating a warm atmosphere at a home adapted for adults with disabilities, where both day activities and full-time residential care are offered. Mr. Fortin is recognized for his humanity, dedication and generosity.

Richard Gooderham
Perth, Ontario

Richard Gooderham keeps the Table Community Food Centre running smoothly. Several times a week, he makes the long trek in from his home outside of town to help out in the drop-in kitchens and perform other odd jobs around the building. He is also a member of the Social Justice Club, and participates in its FREE HUGS campaigns.

Richard Gratton
Beaconsfield, Quebec

For the past three years, Richard Gratton has been working to create a park that would honour the contributions and sacrifices made by past and present military personnel, law enforcement agents, firefighters, first responders and paramedics. With the support of the Beaconsfield community and a team of volunteers, he formed the non-profit and non-partisan Heroes Park committee. Under his leadership, and with the support of funding from individuals, businesses and corporations, as well as military, law enforcement and community leaders, the committee has raised $250,000 to bring the project to life.

Shawn Hutchinson
Nepean, Ontario

Passionate about environmental sustainability and our Canadian wilderness, Shawn Hutchinson has been volunteering with the Rideau Trail Association for over 14 years. Through her work, she promotes a greater appreciation for nature and the outstanding health benefits it offers. At the Aphasia Centre of Ottawa, she guides clients through rehabilitation and recovery, and also offers to drive hospital patients to their appointments.

Saul Jacobson
Kanata, Ontario

The voice of several Ottawa radio stations for over 30 years, Saul Jacobson gives back to the community through his love for music and radio. For the past 12 years, he has been a volunteer music director at Broadview Avenue Public School, where he helps kids reach their full potential. He has instilled a love of jazz music in hundreds of students who have participated in the Grade 8 jazz band.

Renu Kapoor
Regina, Saskatchewan

Driven by her interest in multiculturalism and diversity, Renu Kapoor has been active in her community for the last 45 years. Her volunteer activities extend to such organizations as the Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse, the Regina Public Library, the Regina Housing Authority, SaskCulture, the Regina Chapter of Osteoporosis Canada, the Regina and Area Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and the India Canada Association. Since 2010, she has served as a volunteer board member with the South Saskatchewan Community Foundation.

Bushra Khan
Ottawa, Ontario

Bushra Khan is dedicated to helping youth excel. She is a devoted member of the development committee behind the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board’s Community of Character, which has since been adopted into the Board’s Code of Conduct Policy. For the past five years, Ms. Khan has been an energetic co-chair of the Spirit of the Capital Youth Awards, which funds over 80 scholarships and has raised over $60,000 for Youth Ottawa.

Manwar Khan
Edmonton, Alberta

Manwar Khan is dedicated to raising public awareness of bullying across Alberta. He has launched a province-wide anti-bullying campaign that aims at empowering bystanders to intervene in a safe way. He travels across the province to organize and speak at rallies, assemblies and candlelight vigils. He has been recognized for his work to empower both victims of bullying and bystanders.

Alfred King
Oxford, Nova Scotia

Alfred King has been an inspiration to youth for more than 40 years. He has volunteered with the Cadet Movement, served as a 4-H leader, and taught first aid training to youth groups. He has also served in many executive roles with the Royal Canadian Legion, and was a member and chair of the Cumberland County board of the Nova Scotia Crime Stoppers. In his spare time, he coaches the high school basketball team and organizes their tournaments.

Natasha Kornak
Calgary, Alberta

Seventeen-year-old Natasha Kornak is a model of student leadership. She is an active volunteer with Ronald McDonald House, the Gay Straight Alliance, Mustard Seed, Kristen Lee Coutts Memorial, Bully Free Alberta, and Free the Children. Through her efforts, she is giving back to her community and encouraging others to do the same.

Chris Kulak
Vernon, British Columbia

Chris Kulak is a volunteer with the B.C. Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund. His efforts and hard work over the years have advanced the fund’s visibility both locally and provincially, ensuring greater support for burn victims and survivors. He also volunteers with Muscular Dystrophy Canada, and has helped with the Salvation Army’s Christmas Kettle Campaign and with operations at his local food bank.

Patricia Lafford
Sackville, New Brunswick

A registered nurse by profession, Patricia Lafford is dedicated to serving her community and her church. She is one of the founding members of the Sackville Food Bank and has been lending her time there for more than 26 years. She has been a devoted member of the Catholic Women’s League for more than 40 years, where she offers counselling to shut-ins of all ages.

Jo-Ann Elizabeth Leavey
London, Ontario

A dedicated volunteer since the age of 17, Jo-Ann Leavey is the founder of the Hometeam Foundation, a registered charity that provides leadership opportunities for at-risk youth. Ms. Leavey is also a psychologist who shares her research on youth mental health, stigma reduction and person-centred health care delivery in 12 countries.

Kelly Morgan Lewis
Hanna, Alberta

Kelly Lewis is passionate about protecting the environment. For the past 25 years, he has been involved with Ducks Unlimited, a non-profit organization dedicated to wetland conservation. He has served as its provincial chairman for the last two years. A dedicated teacher, he engages his students through his long-standing participation in a program that promotes safe hunting skills.

Yvon Meloche
Drummondville, Quebec

Yvon Meloche gives generously of his time and energy to his community. A retired paramedic, he launched the Saint Eugène-de-Grantham first responders program in 1996, with which he volunteered until 2010. He initiated a supervisory committee in 2007 that works in conjunction with the Sûreté du Québec to prevent crime, and currently oversees its operations.

Carol Mooney
Sainte-Catherine-de-Hatley, Quebec

Carol Mooney has been volunteering since 2002. She worked with a Canadian team to establish a faculty of education in post-war Kosovo and introduce a new teaching style for Kosovar educators to implement in their classrooms. She is also the co-president of Lampe Foundation, which raises funds to help students in the Eastern Townships further their education. Since 2012, she has worked with others to establish the Centre de santé de la Vallée Massawippi, which will bring much-needed doctors and health care to this under-serviced rural community.

Joanne Moss
Winchester, Ontario

For the last 20 years, Joanne Moss has dedicated herself to helping those facing difficult physical and emotional circumstances. Through her animal support program, she helps autistic children find relief by riding ponies, and provides civilian and military personnel suffering from
post-traumatic stress disorder with service dogs.

Don Neufeld
Edmonton, Alberta

After retiring as assistant auditor general of Alberta, Don Neufeld poured all of his knowledge and expertise into Habitat Edmonton, with which he has been involved since 1992. The organization moved from serving one family a year to serving 56 families in 2012, and 81 families in 2013. In 1998, he volunteered as a full-time accountant and was responsible for Habitat Edmonton’s financial reporting, banking, taxation issues and ad hoc reporting requirements. In 2008, he then devoted his time to managing Habitat Edmonton’s information technology needs, which included networking systems at four separate locations.

Raymond Paquin
Montréal, Quebec

Raymond Paquin created the Fondation de l’Hôpital Marie-Clarac in 1996. In 2011, he spearheaded a fundraising campaign to raise $35 million to build the hospital’s new palliative care pavilion. For 20 years, whether with the foundation or as a member of the hospital’s board of directors, Mr. Paquin has helped to improve the health of his fellow citizens.

Claude Poirier
Montréal, Quebec

Claude Poirier has been actively involved in his parish’s activities and within his community for nearly 50 years. He volunteers for a number of organizations, including La Maison des Grands-Parents de Villeray, a non-profit organization that he helped to establish; the Regroupement des Auberges du Coeur du Québec; and the Club Richelieu. He is dedicated to promoting mental health and early intervention in the Youth Net program.

Christian Robillard
Ottawa, Ontario

Christian Robillard is deeply involved in his community and inspires others to contribute. He is the president of the Off-Campus Student Association for Carleton University, the co-chair of the university’s Student Philanthropy Council, and the student coordinator for the Ottawa Police Youth in Policing Initiative.

Peter Piara Samra
Merritt, British Columbia

For the past 27 years, Peter Samra has been involved in several civic, humanitarian, social and educational causes in the Merritt community, notably with the City of Merritt and Rotary Club programs, the Nicola Valley and District Food Bank, and the Merritt Central School. He has promoted equality and youth involvement as both a member and vice-president of the Merritt Sikh Society and as an Indo-Canadian liaison and volunteer within the community. From working with prominent organizations to tutoring students in math, Mr. Samra’s volunteerism has been appreciated by many.

Lillian Eva Smith
Ottawa, Ontario

For more than 35 years, Lillian Smith has been volunteering for various worthy community initiatives in Canada and in developing countries by helping to raise funds for health care, palliative care, education, single mothers and children in need. She has worked closely with the Kiwanianne Club of Ottawa, Club Mont Sainte-Marie, the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, the May Court Club of Ottawa, the Hospice at May Court and the Canadian Nurses Foundation.

Paul Surprenant
Chelsea, Quebec

Paul Surprenant is a generous man who is ready to help others. When he retired in 2001, he turned his attention to volunteerism and joined the Carrefour jeunesse emploi de l’Outaouais, where he helps young people enter the workforce. He oversaw the renovation of two Soupe populaire de Hull inc. service centres, as well as the purchase of adjoining lands to erect a new service centre for the less fortunate in his community.

J. F. Donald Tedford
Grand Bend, Ontario

Donald Tedford has demonstrated his commitment to volunteering through his active participation in service clubs for over 50 years, including 15 years with the Lions Club and 30 years with Rotary clubs in Shelbourne, Orangeville and Grand Bend. In 1998, he chaired a
45-member steering committee interested in establishing a community health centre in Grand Bend. Additionally, while living in King City, Mr. Tedford was instrumental in the development of a local arena.

Marcel Thibault
Mont-Laurier, Quebec

Marcel Thibault has been volunteering in the areas of sports and recreation for 60 years. He was a coach for a number of athletic clubs, including bantam, midget and junior hockey. He was also in charge of the Association des coureurs en canot de La Lièvre for 26 years. In addition,
Mr. Thibault spent many years helping to organize the community’s Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day festivities.

Vernon Thuroo
Hanna, Alberta

Vernon Thuroo has volunteered as an instructor with the Hanna Youth Curling Club and as an umpire for Hanna Minor Baseball. He also raises funds for the Hanna Hospital Auxiliary and the Hanna Elks Club. Committed to making higher education accessible to youth, he served as a trustee on the Prairie Land School Board, and as a member of the Hanna Agricultural Society, which gives bursaries to students entering a post-secondary institution.

Bernard Touesnard
Riverview, New Brunswick

Since his retirement in 1977, Bernard Touesnard has volunteered in many organizations, including the Riverview Boys and Girls Club, the Boys and Girls Club of New Brunswick, the Riverview Figure Skating Club, the Knights of Columbus, and the Riverview Lions Club. He also coaches and manages the Riverview Fast Ball League.

James Travers
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

A lawyer by profession, James Travers still finds the time to volunteer. He is active in his church, and contributes to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Foundation, Rotary International, and the Confederation of the Arts. He has been recognized at the regional and national levels for his work as a board member of the P.E.I. Chapter of the Children’s Wish Foundation.

Laurin and Ruby Trudel
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories and Lloydminster, Alberta

Since 2008, Laurin and Ruby Trudel have been the driving force behind Food Rescue Yellowknife. Thanks to their vision, action and dedication, 1.6 million pounds of food and other items have been diverted from the landfill for processing and redistribution. They have created a model organization with minimal overhead and maximum benefit to the community of Yellowknife.

Bailey Whitehouse
Prescott, Ontario

Bailey Whitehouse has generously given of her time to the Prescott and Brockville branches of the Royal Canadian Legion, the Brockville Art Centre, the Food For All Food Bank, and to Girl Guides and Air Cadets. In 2008, when her close friend needed a heart transplant, she rallied local businesses to raise over $2,500. Sadly, her friend died before receiving the new heart. Despite the loss, Ms. Whitehouse remains steadfast in her efforts to help others.

Terry Wright
Victoria, British Columbia

In 1994, Terry Wright helped lead the XV Commonwealth Games to success in Victoria, British Columbia. This experience helped him learn the value of giving back to his community through his love of sport and major sporting events. He was a key player in Vancouver’s successful bid for the 2010 Olympic Games and continues to lend his expertise to the Canadian Olympic Committee. His volunteer service also extends to the Greater Victoria Hospital Foundation, the Commonwealth Games Foundation of Canada, and Victoria’s Corps des Commissionaires. He has also coached community youth soccer and baseball teams.

Ruslana Wrzesnewskyj
Toronto, Ontario

For over 20 years, Ruslana Wrzesnewskyj has dedicated her life to improving the lives of disadvantaged and orphaned children living in poor conditions in local orphanages in post-Soviet Ukraine. In 1994, she started a non-profit organization called Help Us Help the Children, which delivers immediately tangible humanitarian aid. She has also established long-term programs and funds to help these children successfully transition from the orphanage to the real world.

Chuck Young
Calgary, Alberta

Chuck Young has volunteered for 25 years with the General Mountaineering Camp of the Alpine Club of Canada. As a volunteer leader and club ambassador, he has introduced hundreds of people to the wonders of nature through the sport of mountaineering. He also encourages future leaders and helps to create a vital network of people who uphold and support the club’s values.

THE GOVERNOR GENERAL’S CARING CANADIAN AWARD

When the Right Honourable Roméo LeBlanc became Governor General of Canada, he was determined to thank the thousands of caring people who give so much to their fellow citizens—the unsung heroes who volunteer their time, their efforts and a great deal of their lives to helping others, and who ask for nothing in return. In 1995, the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award was created.

The award recognizes individuals who volunteer their time to help others and to build a smarter and more caring nation. The award also highlights the fine example set by these volunteers, whose compassion and engagement are so much a part of our Canadian character.

Eligibility criteria

The award recognizes living Canadians and permanent residents who have made a significant, sustained, unpaid contribution to their community, in Canada or abroad.

Nomination process

Nominations can be made directly via the Governor General of Canada’s website, at www.gg.ca/caring. They will be received by the Chancellery of Honours and reviewed by the advisory committee which will then make recommendations to the governor general. There is no deadline for submissions. Nominations are accepted throughout the year.

Description of the award

The award’s emblem represents Canadians who selflessly give of their time and energy to others. The maple leaf symbolizes the people of Canada and their spirit; the heart depicts the open-heartedness of volunteers; and the outstretched hand portrays boundless generosity. The blue and gold colours, which appear on the viceregal flag, indicate the award’s connection with the governor general.

The Caring Canadian Award, consisting of a letter, a certificate and a lapel pin, is presented by the governor general or by lieutenant governors, territorial commissioners, mayors, members of the Order of Canada or partner organizations. When this is not possible, or if a recipient requests an early presentation for personal reasons, the award will be sent by mail.

Media wishing to cover this event are requested to confirm their attendance with the
Rideau Hall Press Office, and must arrive at the Princess Anne entrance
no later than 10:15 a.m. on the day of the ceremony.

 

SOURCE Government House

Luczon: Coping with K to 12

THE whole concept or idea within the conscripts of the Aquino administration, through the Department of Education (DepEd), is promising and indeed ambitious. If everything falls into place and proceed as planned, definitely it can improve the education system of the country; something that is quite lagging behind compared to our Southeast Asian neighbors.

I am personally hopeful to this based on my experience when I was in high school. How I wished my senior high school years were devout to skills that meet my interests, if K to 12 were implemented during my time.

It also about the maturity of how students engage in academic and critical discourse the moment they step in college. In my experience, although not all, it was very disappointing to see some classmates or schoolmates who just enrolled to a degree program for the sake of having degree programs that are prerequisite to finding a salary-motivating job.

Although I call it “diskarte” or witty initiative, and not all in the theoretical frameworks in the books are practically applicable in real life, but they could have been very more sympathetic to what is currently happening in the society had they known their roles even as college students.

But like any conceived ideas, from visualizing a dream house or planning on a perfect vacation, it’s the rudimentary works on the ground that defines the survival and progression of the K to 12 program in the Philippines.

This is the reason why some groups wanted to suspend the program because DepEd may not be ready to address the needs and requirements for K to 12, even Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, a known ally of President Aquino, pushed for the suspension.

The call of suspension is gaining momentum especially that this year, the last classes or batches of senior high school students graduated from the traditional four-year secondary program, and the next two to three years will be the start of the first generation of senior high school students under K to 12.

This also means that the next two to three years, all tertiary schools in the country can have a possibility of zero enrollment for freshmen students, thus some college instructors or professors, specializing in general education courses can also be affected. Although the Commission on Higher Education and DepEd are working this out together that these instructors can also teach senior high school students temporarily.

The K to 12 program should have long been implemented, it is better to continue it now than never at all. In the beginning, there will be “birth pains” that go along with it. But this is also the time that DepEd and the government in general, that they must exert all exert efforts to address the gray areas identified. The government must be ahead than to wait for the public to be upset before they will do something.

At best, may the K to 12 program, like any promising programs in the government, will not be marred with politics especially that another major election is fast approaching that may determine a new administration.

[Email: nefluczon@gmail.com]

General Assembly to review McAuliffe’s vetoes, amendments April 15

The Virginia General Assembly will be back in session next week to reconsider a handful of bills that Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) vetoed or amended over the past month.

McAuliffe vetoed 17 bills, six of which involved changes to legislative districts, and proposed amendments to about 50 other bills.

“The bills that I vetoed this year sought changes in law that I viewed to be counterproductive to the economic and social progress we need to better serve Virginia families,” McAuliffe said in a news release. “From drawing legislative lines outside of the constitutional process, to loosening Virginia gun laws and unnecessarily disrupting the ability of law enforcement and the Virginia Board of Education to do their jobs, these bills do not make Virginia stronger or more competitive.”

The legislature will return to Richmond for a one-day session April 15 to vote on McAuliffe’s actions.

It takes a two-thirds majority of both the House of Delegates and Senate to override the governor’s veto. The legislature can approve or reject his amendments individually.

Ethics reforms

In the wake of former Gov. Bob McDonnell’s conviction on federal charges related to gifts he received while in office, the General Assembly passed new rules this year restricting the value of gifts lawmakers can receive and establishing stricter disclosure and review policies.

McAuliffe proposed a list of amendments to the legislature’s bill.

“The ethics bill that was sent to my desk represented a significant step forward, but it was not perfect,” he said in a news release. “While my amendments do not make it perfect, they do further strengthen our ethics laws so that Virginians can have greater confidence that their leaders are putting them first.”

The governor said his top priority is changing language regarding the $100 gift limit. Unlike existing law, the language could potentially allow a series of gifts from one person as long as each individual gift was under the $100 cap. McAuliffe’s proposal would create an aggregate $100 cap on gifts from one person.

He also suggested an amendment that would allow semiannual, random audits of lawmakers’ disclosure forms and one that clarifies that major public sporting events such as the Super Bowl are exempt from the gift cap.

Changes to legislative districts

There were six bills approved during the 2015 session that made what were described as “technical adjustments” to the boundaries of House of Delegates and Senate districts, including House districts 42 and 43 in Fairfax County.

McAuliffe vetoed all of them, saying that there are legal questions about adjusting districts outside of the planned 10-year cycle following the decennial U.S. census.

”Furthermore, this bill sets a terrible precedent,” McAuliffe said in his veto statement. “Allowing the legislature to make substantive changes to electoral districts more frequently than once a decade injects further partisanship into a process that I regard as already too partisan.”

All legislative seats are up for election this fall and the bills were largely passed on party line votes.

Other voting regulations

McAuliffe vetoed a bill that would require people voting by absentee ballot to include a copy of a photo ID with their absentee ballot application. People who vote in person now have to show a photo ID, but McAuliffe vetoed the bill on the grounds that it would disenfranchise voters.

He also vetoed a bill that would allow a general registrar to reside in a location outside the locality where they are to serve as registrar. Now, registrars must live in the same locality where they administer elections.

McAuliffe said he had seen no evidence that there has been difficulty recruiting registrars under the current system.

License plate readers

In a proposed amendment, the governor loosened proposed limits on the length of time law enforcement agencies can maintain data collected by license plate readers. License plate readers are devices mounted on a police vehicle that scan license plates of surrounding vehicles and can flag possible infractions.

As passed, the bill required law enforcement agencies to delete captured license plate data within seven days unless a warrant has been issued for that information. McAuliffe’s amendment would extend that to 60 days.

The original bill passed unanimously in the House and Senate.

Common Core

Virginia currently sets and develops its own academic standards, and two bills the General Assembly approved during the session set out to ensure that it remains independent.

The bills would prohibit Virginia from adopting Common Core State Standards, which were designed in an attempt to develop national education standards but since have become controversial.

McAuliffe vetoed both bills, despite stating his personal opposition to Virginia adoption of Common Core, saying he doesn’t believe the General Assembly should intervene in the work of the Board of Education.

Government contracting

McAuliffe vetoed two bills related to government contracts.

One would prohibit state contracts for public works projects to include language requiring pay to be based on “prevailing wages and benefits.” McAuliffe said that a prevailing wage requirement is essentially meaningless under current state law, and that such language is necessary for projects that receive federal funding.

The other would prohibit local governments from setting a wage requirement above minimum wage for contractors.

Gun laws

McAuliffe vetoed two bills related to permits that allow people to carry a concealed weapon and another regarding the transfer of restricted weapons.

One would allow people who have a permit to carry a concealed handgun to also carry a loaded shotgun or rifle in their vehicles.

Another bill would have prohibited officials from sharing information from its database of people who have concealed carry permits with law enforcement officers in states that do not reciprocally recognize Virginia concealed carry permits.

The third bill relates to certain weapons, such as machine guns, that require the certification of the local chief law enforcement officer to be transported to that community. The bill would require the chief to provide certification within 60 days.

Tebow bill

The governor vetoed the so-called “Tebow bill,” which would allow home-schooled students to participate in sports programs at their local high school.

In the statement explaining his veto, McAuliffe said that it would create an uneven playing field to open high school sports to students who don’t have to meet the academic requirements developed by the Virginia High School league.

To view all of the governor’s proposed amendments, go to http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?151+lst+REC.


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U.S. Department of Education: Webber Among Schools With Troubling Audits

Webber International and the others were placed on the list because financial audits turned up some troubling results.

Webber International President Keith Wade said the university is on the list because the education department mislabeled a debt it took on from a branch campus and a second mislabeling of a revenue from that branch.

In 2011, Webber International took over St. Andrews University in southern North Carolina. Before becoming part of Webber, St. Andrews took out a $2 million loan for capital improvements. When Webber took over St. Andrews, the loan came with it.

Wade said the bank that holds the loan and the university’s independent auditor have labeled that as a long-term loan, but the education department has labeled it as short term.

As part of St. Andrews joining Webber, St. Andrews had to restructure its debt, Wade said. St. Andrews renegotiated some of its loans, sold some land on campus and, ultimately, the restructure resulted in Webber gaining $4 million, Wade said. The university didn’t take the lump $4 million, but is instead receiving $400,000 a year for 10 years.

The education department labeled the $4 million as short-term debt, Wade said. Wade said he thinks the department labeling those two items differently is inconsistent with accepted accounting practices.

Wade said the university made an appeal last month and is awaiting a decision.

“I have confidence that we’ll be off the list for 2015, but we’re trying to get off the list for 2014,” Wade said. “Our next fiscal year ends in 55 days. It will be a good year. Neither of the two items which are causing us difficulties will be on our 2015 financials.”

Some of the 39 Florida schools on the cash monitoring list include the now-defunct Fortis Institute campus in Mulberry; and International Academy of Design and Technology, and Manhattan Beauty School, both in Tampa.

Higher education groups on the national level say it’s too early to determine how being on this list impacts a university’s public image.

“Nationally, the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Financial Responsibility scores are only one measure of institutional fiscal well-being,” said Paul Hassen, communications director at the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. “Being on the HCM (heightened cash monitoring) list means a college must agree to additional reporting, financial aid monitoring, or administrative oversight requirements — or post a letter of credit — to be deemed financially responsible by the Education Department.”

The information was released for the first time when Inside Higher Ed, an online higher education news organization, requested the data after being denied access last year.

Education department officials have said being on this list isn’t a complete vilification of those institutions or their ability to manage money. Despite being on the list, these schools continue to operate and educate students.

“Heightened cash monitoring is not necessarily a red flag to students and taxpayers, but it can serve as a caution light,” the department’s Under Secretary Ted Mitchell told the Wall Street Journal. “It means we are watching these institutions more closely to ensure that institutions are using federal student aid in a way that is accountable to both students and taxpayers.”

Colleges are on the list for one of a couple of reasons:

• Submitting financial statements late.

• Missing a mandatory audit.

• General financial mismanagement.

bulll; Accreditation issue.

All the colleges on the list are grouped in either cash monitoring 1 or cash monitoring 2. Cash monitoring 2 is the most severe label and it likely means the college must submit additional paperwork to the government before being taken off the naughty list.

Webber International is in cash monitoring 1. Wade stressed the money involved in this issue isn’t in the university’s operational budget, alluding that the school isn’t in any danger of shutting down or making cuts.

[ Khristopher J. Brooks can be reached at khristopher.brooks@theledger.com or 863-802-7536. Read his Extra Credit blog on TheLedger.com. Follow him on Twitter @americanglow ]

What Is A Business Analyst And How Much Do They Make?

Over the last few years, the generic job title of business analyst has become popular in multiple industries. Although job duties can vary immensely, in the most general terms, business analysts work within a business or organization to identify and implement improvements to help a business achieve its goals. The title of business analyst can describe both entry-level workers and tenured professionals and compensation varies accordingly. This article discusses the work, compensation, and outlook for business analysts.

The Basics of Business Analysis

Business analysis is a disciplined, structured, and formal approach to analyzing a business process, identifying improvements, and implementing changes so that the business can better achieve its goals. It is based on facts, figures, and observations.

The International Institute of Business Analysis provides this job description, “A business analyst works as a liaison among stakeholders to elicit, analyze, communicate and validate requirements for changes to business processes, policies and information systems. The business analyst understands business problems and opportunities in the context of the requirements, and recommends solutions that enable the organization to achieve its goals.”

Business analysts can serve in many functions in almost any industry. For example, a systems analyst is a business analyst that focuses on how to best use technology to solve problems and improve outcomes. Other job titles where an employee perform business analysis include data analyst, solutions provider, change agent, requirements manager, specifications writer, researcher, product owner, product manager, or management consultant.

Business analysts may perform quality assurance, requirements gathering, documentation, or client support. They may also specialize in improving sales, by focusing on pre-sales, customer service, client relationship, and account management. Business analysts may also be very internally focused on process improvements within an organization and coordination across multiple departments and stakeholders.

Some qualities of a good business analyst include the following:

• Good listening skills

• Openness to change

• Adept in multitasking

• Expertise in prioritization, based on needs of multiple stakeholders

• Good negotiation skills, to seek timely buy-in on important decisions and prioritization from all stakeholders

• Identifying process improvement opportunities which can lead to efficiency and output improvements

Education and Career Path of Business Analysts

A bachelor’s degree or higher is required. Possible majors include finance, technology, management, and accounting. Because of the number of skills required, most business analyst positions are not open to new college graduates. Most business analysts attain their first position after a few years in a related position such as data analyst, functional analyst, systems analyst, business requirements analyst, or financial analyst.

The career path of a business analyst can include becoming a senior business analyst, a business analyst specialist in specific areas (such as SAP, Agile, or ScrumMaster), a business manager, a business architect, an enterprise architect, and finally a director or VP-level position. Other experienced business analysts become independent consultants, taking assignments on contract.

Almost any industry can employ business analysts, but most jobs are in information technology or management consulting firms. Other industries include accounting, investment banking, finance, and market research.

Salary and Compensation for Business Analysts

Compensation varies widely and is determined by the factors like location, experience level, and industry. For example, a business analyst working in a large New York-based investment bank will earn more than a business analyst performing market research for an automobile company in Michigan. Candidates who specialize in a specific technology (like SAP) may command higher premiums. Below are the average salary ranges and bonus percentages for business analysts.

  • Entry Level: $40,000 to $70,000 with up to an 8 percent bonus
  • Mid Career: $55,000 to $95,000 with up to a 10 percent bonus
  • Senior Level: $70,000 – $150,000 with up to a 10 percent bonus
  • Overall U.S. Average: $45,000-$110,000 with up to a 10 percent bonus

The Bottom Line

Business analyst is a general title for many different job functions in almost any industry. A good candidate should have an undergraduate degree and several years of work experience in the area of business analysis that he or she is interested in. Candidates can also take business analysis certifications courses like those from the International Institute of Business Analysis.