UCDSB lay­offs loom

The Glengarry News - - Front Page - BY RICHARD MAHONEY News Staff

“We have this sword over our heads,” Up­per Canada Dis­trict School Board chair­man John McAl­lis­ter says re­fer­ring to a huge debt that has prompted the board to is­sue re­dun­dancy no­tices to about 100 teach­ers.

While re­it­er­at­ing that the no­tices do not nec­es­sar­ily mean all 100 will lose their jobs, staff re­duc­tions seem in­evitable as the board is faced with a $5.2 mil­lion trans­porta­tion deficit and a $54 per stu­dent re­duc­tion in its grants that are based on en­rol­ment.

Mean­while, other area boards say they do not plan to dras­ti­cally cut back on teach­ing po­si­tions or have yet to de­ter­mine their re­sponse to lower pro­vin­cial grants.

Ris­ing en­rol­ment in CSDCEO

Le Con­seil sco­laire de dis­trict catholique de l’Est on­tarien adopted its staffing al­lo­ca­tion for the 2019-2020 school year April 30. “Be­cause en­rol­ment pro­jec­tions in our schools are on the in­crease again this year, we have rea­son to be op­ti­mistic. How­ever, it is too early to con­firm the ex­act fig­ures,” the CSDCEO says.

The French-lan­guage Catholic board fol­lows the pro­vin­cial guide­lines based on at­tri­tion. “Sur­plus em­ploy­ees will be no­ti­fied soon,” re­lates the board, adding that firm num­bers will be avail­able once re­dun­dancy no­tices have been is­sued.

At the Con­seil des écoles publiques de l’Est de l’On­tario, of­fi­cials are an­a­lyz­ing in­for­ma­tion from the ed­u­ca­tion min­istry.

The Catholic Dis­trict School Board of Eastern On­tario re­ports: “The CDSBEO does not an­tic­i­pate a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of teacher re­dun­dan­cies at this time, as a re­sult of at­tri­tion and has not is­sued any re­dun­dancy no­tices. The board con­tin­ues to re­ceive re­tire­ment no­tices from staff, which will im­pact staffing for next year. Cur­rently, the CDSBEO is work­ing through the de­tails of the fund­ing an­nounce­ment, and is await­ing fur­ther in­for­ma­tion and cal­cu­la­tions on the fund­ing de­tails of the tech­ni­cal pa­per, in or­der to fi­nal­ize staffing for 2019-2020.”

Grants re­duced

The Up­per Canada board’s al­ready dif­fi­cult fi­nan­cial po­si­tion wors­ened with a $54 re­duc­tion in the $12,300 per stu­dent grants for stu­dent needs (GSN) fund­ing. With 27,000 stu­dents, that cut is sub­stan­tial.

UCDSB of­fi­cials are deal­ing with “pinch points” as they crunch num­bers in prepa­ra­tion for the June 30 adop­tion of the board’s bud­get.

With an av­er­age salary of $90,000, the UCDSB would save about $9 mil­lion if all re­dun­dant teach­ers are laid off.

The no­tices are be­ing sent out now in or­der to re­spect the terms of the board’s col­lec­tive agree­ments.

Mr. McAl­lis­ter em­pha­sized that, re­gard­less of the fi­nal staffing al­lo­ca­tion, “Our schools will be staffed in Septem­ber and we will wel­come stu­dents to a new year of learn­ing.”

Last year, only three UCDSB sec­ondary school teach­ers were de­clared sur­plus, ac­cord­ing to the On­tario Sec­ondary School Teach­ers Fed­er­a­tion.

The UCDSB chair­man stressed that his board and the CDSBEO are faced with huge trans­porta­tion deficits be­cause of cir­cum­stances be­yond their con­trol. An ar­bi­tra­tion set­tle­ment that awarded raises to bus op­er­a­tors left both school sys­tems with mas­sive short­falls.

Talks are con­tin­u­ing with gov­ern­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tives in the hopes Queen’s Park will throw the boards a life line. The UCDSB’s en­rol­ment has re­mained sta­ble. But staff re­duc­tions will be­come in­evitable for the UCDSB and other boards whose en­rol­ments do not rise. That is be­cause, over the next four years, the prov­ince will in­crease the limit on high school class sizes from 22 to 28 and from 23 to 24 in grades 4 to 8.

Yet, the gov­ern­ment has in­sisted that no teach­ers would lose their jobs.

The prov­ince is spend­ing $1.6 bil­lion on “teacher job pro­tec­tion,” to see that “not a sin­gle teacher will lose their job as a re­sult of our pro­posed changes to class sizes or e-learn­ing,” Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Lisa Thomp­son has.

The gov­ern­ment says it “cre­at­ing a world class ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem which will pre­pare our stu­dents for the jobs of tomorrow. The prov­ince will use a mod­ern­ized ap­proach to ed­u­ca­tion reform to bet­ter uti­lize tech­nol­ogy, give stu­dents the skills they need to suc­ceed, pro­tect front line teach­ers and en­sure ev­ery dol­lar spent ben­e­fits stu­dents.”

On­tario will pro­vide $24.66 bil­lion in ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing to school boards in 2019–20, “in­vest­ing more in ed­u­ca­tion for the com­ing school year than the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment com­mit­ted for 2018-19.”

The new At­tri­tion Pro­tec­tion Al­lo­ca­tion of $1.6 bil­lion will top-up fund­ing for school boards to pro­tect front-line teach­ing staff, which will pre­vent boards from hav­ing to lay off teach­ers, the gov­ern­ment says.

RICHARD MAHONEY PHOTO

LOCAVORES’ DE­LIGHT: Craig MacMil­lan of the Stone­house Vine­yard in Lochiel pours a red wine dur­ing the Tast­ings In The Glens Satur­day in Maxville. Lo­cal food was high­lighted at the event that was or­ga­nized by the Hôpi­tal Glen­garry Me­mo­rial Hospi­tal Foun­da­tion. More in­side.

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