Education policies and funding changes announced by the Ford government are being cited for potentially deep cuts to the Grand Erie District School Board’s elementary and secondary school teaching complement.
A total of 21 Grand Erie elementary school teachers received notices that they have been deemed “redundant” for the coming academic year.
In a news release on April 25, the Grand Erie board said these teachers will not have positions at an area public school in the fall.
The corresponding number for Grand Erie high school teachers is 84. At this point, they too have no position at an area high school come September.
This compares with 2017 when no elementary or high school teachers with the Grand Erie board were deemed redundant. No elementary teachers at local public schools received layoff notices in 2018 but 59 high school teachers were declared redundant last year.
Trustee Greg Anderson, chair of the Grand Erie board, addressed the actions in a statement on April 25.
“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.
On the same day, Ontario Education Minister Lisa Thompson said $1.6 billion in funding will be provided to ensure no teacher loses their job because of the Ford government’s move to increased class sizes.
The Ford government recently announced that high school class sizes will rise from 22 to 28 students over the next four years. Plans are to keep the current cap on classes from kindergarten to Grade 3 in place. Class sizes for Grades 4 to 8 will increase from 23 students to 24.
Teachers unions have warned that many of their members will lose their jobs because of increased class sizes.
On April 25, Thompson countered that the $1.6 billion should ensure that no teacher “involuntarily” loses their position. Thompson expects the teaching workforce to right-size itself automatically through retirements and attrition.
There are reports out of Queen’s Park that Thompson will tell school boards she expects them to refrain from using changes in class size as a reason to lay off teaching staff.
Other teachers within the Grand Erie system received notices that they were “surplus” to the board’s future needs. These teachers will have a job with the local board in the fall. However, they could be assigned to another school.
A total of 37 Grand Erie public school teachers were declared surplus on April 24. The number of public high school teachers declared surplus on April 25 came to 20. They too will have jobs in the fall but potentially at a different campus.
“Grand Erie redundant and surplus teachers at the secondary level are a result of changes announced by the Ministry of Education (in March), the end of local priority funding, lower enrolment, and the cancellation of some education program and other grants,” Anderson said in his statement.
“The staffing impacts for Grand Erie in 2019-20 are deep and beyond anything the board has experienced in recent years. Understandably, this is a very challenging and difficult time for impacted staff as well as those seeing colleagues who have been with the board since as far back as 2012 affected by this news.
“These are uncertain times for all school boards in Ontario. As we wait for funding details for 2019-20, we’re hopeful we’ll be provided with the resources we need to continue providing students the education they deserve as well as the unique and important programs that ensure ‘Success for Every Student.’”
No reply was received at press time to an inquiry on these matters from the Brant-Haldimand-Norfolk Catholic District School Board.