School boards mull new funding

Province confirms $1.6B teacher retention fund

The Grand Erie District School Board and the Brant-Haldimand-Norfolk Catholic District School Board are re-assessing their staffing needs now that the Ford government has confirmed $1.6-billion in teacher retention funding.

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Local school boards are weighing their options now that the province has pledged a large sum of money for teacher retention.

Come the spring, school boards in Ontario notify teachers who will be laid off at the end of the academic year or who can look forward to re-assignment at a different school in September.

The Grand Erie District School Board issued these notifications to elementary and secondary school teachers Wednesday and Thursday.

For its part, the Brant-Haldimand-Norfolk Catholic District School Board was assessing its staffing needs when Education Minister Lisa Thompson announced Friday that a special fund of $1.6 billion has been created to ensure teachers don’t lose their jobs because of the Ford government’s education reforms.

Tracey Austin, spokesperson for the local Catholic board, said the new funding is being analyzed and promises to have a significant impact on the board’s deliberations.

“It is still premature for us to provide a statement,” Austin said in an email Friday.

“The (Grant for Student Needs) wasn’t set to be released until (Friday) so we’re still taking a look at our numbers and system needs. Once we receive that additional piece we will be able to move forward and will then be in a good position to share the impact on the system.

“Our numbers looked quite good. But we were happy to hear today’s announcement as we will now be able to factor that into our data and allocations.”

Last week, 21 elementary school teachers with the Grand Erie board and 84 public high school teachers were formally notified that they were deemed “redundant” for the 2019-2020 academic year. That means they will be out of a job once the school year ends in June.

Also last week, 37 Grand Erie elementary teachers and 20 Grand Erie high school teachers were declared “surplus.” That means they have jobs to look forward to in September but that they might be relocated to another campus.

Even though the $1.6 billion in teacher retention has been confirmed, the Grand Erie board said Friday it is not prepared to say how that might alter its position.

In a statement Thursday, Grand Erie school board chair Greg Anderson said the comparatively large number of teachers receiving layoff notices last week was due to the changes the Ford government announced to the education system in recent weeks.

“Grand Erie redundant and surplus teachers at the elementary level are a result of changes announced by the Ministry of Education last month, the end of local priority funding, and the cancellation of some education program and other (provincial) grants,” Anderson said.

Anderson also cited new policies for the impact on high school teachers.

“Grand Erie redundant and surplus teachers at the secondary level are a result of changes announced by the Ministry of Education last month, the end of local priority funding, lower enrolment, and the cancellation of some education program and other grants,” Anderson said.

Anderson’s comments came before the $1.6 billion in retention funding was announced.

In a release issued Monday, the board said last week’s staffing impacts will remain unchanged until more details are provided by the province.

“Grand Erie is pleased that the Ministry of Education has finally released its 2019-20 Grants for Student Needs (GSNs),” Anderson said in a release. “The information provided on Friday, however, is very high-level and does not include the specific details we need to move forward with our planning for next year. Until this detailed information is received and analyzed, including the funds promised by the Education Minister for attrition protection, Grand Erie’s staffing impacts for 2019-20 remain the same.”

MSonnenberg@postmedia.com

 

 

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