‘Dev­as­tat­ing blow’

The Glengarry News - - Front Page -

In what a union has called a “dev­as­tat­ing blow,” the Up­per Canada Dis­trict School Board has laid off 155 em­ploy­ees as it strug­gles to cope with a huge deficit.

The staffing re­duc­tions in­clude 42 teach­ers, 30 ed­u­ca­tional assistants, early child­hood ed­u­ca­tors, English-lan­guage learner in­struc­tors and in­struc­tional as­sis­tant po­si­tions, 22 school of­fice sup­port staff jobs, 22 Learn­ing Com­mons In­for­ma­tion­ist posts, 24 stu­dent sup­port part­ner po­si­tions, 11 speech lan­guage assistants, a psy­cho­log­i­cal as­so­ci­ate, one su­per­in­ten­dent, two cen­tral of­fice sup­port staff, five sys­tem and school prin­ci­pal/vice-prin­ci­pal po­si­tions.

“The UCDSB dealt a dev­as­tat­ing blow to all stu­dents in Up­per Canada,” de­clares the On­tario Sec­ondary School Teach­ers Fed­er­a­tion. “Trus­tees cut all child and youth worker and be­haviourist (SSP) po­si­tions, dec­i­mat­ing the para-pro­fes­sion­als work group by 53 per cent.”

“Th­ese front-line work­ers pro­vided ser­vices that were crit­i­cal in stu­dent sui­cide pre­ven­tion, stu­dent men­tal health, stu­dent en­gage­ment strate­gies, and fa­cil­i­tat­ing con­nec­tions be­tween fam­i­lies and out­side agen­cies to sup­port stu­dents,” states the OSSTF.

‘Shocked and dis­mayed’

Fund­ing for para-pro­fes­sion­als was pared by $1.3 mil­lion as trus­tees were faced with a $11.7 mil­lion deficit.

“We are aware that peo­ple may be up­set by some of the de­ci­sions that we as a board have had to make. With many for­mer ed­u­ca­tors sit­ting around the trus­tee ta­ble, we are ob­vi­ously em­pa­thetic to the sit­u­a­tion,” says chair­man John McAl­lis­ter. “How­ever, we are also ob­li­gated to de­liver pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion within the fund­ing that has been al­lo­cated to us by the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion and to de­liver bud­gets that are com­pli­ant with gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tions,” he adds. “We have en­deav­ored to do this with the least pos­si­ble im­pact on the class­room. Al­though the ac­tual de­liv­ery of some pro­grams may look dif­fer­ent in the up­com­ing year, we are con­fi­dent that the Up­per Canada Dis­trict School Board will be able to pro­vide stu­dents with a qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion that meets their needs and pre­pares them for a suc­cess­ful life.”

But OSSTF Dis­trict Of­fi­cer Adri­enne McEwen charges: “De­spite gov­ern­ment claims that it will be busi­ness as usual at On­tario school boards, there is ab­so­lutely noth­ing rou­tine about the alarm­ing num­ber of para-pro­fes­sion­als de­clared re­dun­dant to­day.” She com­ments, “While the Ford gov­ern­ment is partly to blame for cut­ting ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing to front­line work­ers and stu­dent sup­ports, we are shocked and dis­mayed” the UCDSB “would make such deep cuts to vi­tal ser­vices for stu­dents.”

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