Despite provincial funding changes, the local Catholic school board says it will hire five new educational assistants for the next school year.
“Through solid fiscal leadership, hard work by our staff, positive increases in enrolment and attrition at Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District School Board, we were able to declare this week that we achieved ‘no redundancies’ and no layoffs, unlike so many other boards in the province,” chair Rick Petrella said in an email to board employees and in a post on Twitter.
Petrella had announced last week there would be no redundancy notices going out to any of the board’s 662 teachers. He shared information about the hiring of additional staff earlier this week.
In addition to hiring five new EAs, the board is retaining two child and youth worker positions for the 2019-20 school year.
“There have been no staff layoffs as the result of funding cuts,” said Petrella. “Through staff retirements, matched with increased student enrolment, we were able to achieve a ‘no redundancy’ status for the district.”
However, because those retiring staff members won’t be replaced, there could be fewer teachers in the schools.
“Although course offerings at the secondary level are still under review, there have been no student programs eliminated as the result of funding cuts,” said Petrella. “As student enrolment over the summer months takes place, we will have a better idea of how our secondary classes will look in September.”
The Grand Erie District School Board currently has 70 redundant high school teachers and 19 redundant elementary teachers.
The potential job losses are the result of the province’s plan to increase secondary school class sizes. The average class size for high school students will increase to 24 from 22 starting in the new school year in September, and to 28 over four years. The province has also told school boards to add mandatory online courses and cancelled some education program grants boards receive.
Greg Anderson, chair of the Grand Erie board, said the staffing impact is beyond anything the board has experienced.
Both local school boards expect to finalize their budgets in July for the next school year.
Fatima DeJesus, president of Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, District 23, which represents educational support staff and early childhood educators at the local Catholic board, issued a media release on Wednesday saying the board would be cutting two child and youth workers, three EAs and a part-time library technician. DeJesus said on Thursday that those cuts would now not be made.
However, DeJesus said Petrella should do more to fight against the provincial cutbacks.