Parents angry by plan to cut one teacher at Nelson Whynder Elementary

Watch Above: Parents at an elementary school in North Preston are speaking out against a plan by the school board to cut a teaching position next year. Alex Abdelwahab reports.

NORTH PRESTON, N.S. – Parents at one of the Halifax Regional School Board’s priority schools says a plan to cut one teacher next year will put their kids further behind.

Carol Beals, the mother of three kids currently attending Nelson Whynder Elementary, and a member of the school advisory council, says they were told at their meeting this week that the Board plans to eliminate one teaching position next year, which means there would only be four classroom teachers at the school instead of five.

The school, which teaches kindergarten to Grade 6, is the only elementary school in the tight knit community of North Preston, which is made up primarily of African Canadians. It has a current enrollment of 86 students, according to the HRSB website.

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Beals believes the Board isn’t considering how the cut would impact individual students.

“Our kids are not numbers and our kids are not formulas,” she said.

Beals has 6-year-old twins, Jah-Nyha and Jay-von, who are currently in separate classrooms. But she said from what she heard at the meeting, this would not be possible next year. She says neither was learning when they were in the same classroom in previous years, as they got distracted by each other.

“On’s autistic and one is behavioral,” she said. “They cannot be in the same classroom.”

She said she will make the hard decision to bus her kids out of the community if the change goes ahead, rather than put them together again.

In an e-mail to Global News, HRSB spoksperson Doug Hadley confirmed that: “In the initial staffing allotment for next year, Nelson Whynder will have one less classroom teacher than they did last year.”

Hadley wrote he could not speculate on what the final number of staff would be for any of their schools until the end of September when staffing is finalized.

“Our staffing process is fluid and we will likely see adjustments occurring between now and then,” he wrote.

Nelson Whynder is considered a priority school by the board. This year, they assigned a Literacy Coach to the school. But outside the school Thursday afternoon, parents told Global News, they believe cutting a teacher would undo all that work.

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“I think they would fall behind further,” Sherry Beals said. “The kids that really need the teachers [are] not going to get that extra help.”

“I don’t think it’s fair,” Lola Downey said. “We need the teachers here and we have more kids coming here next year. So what are we supposed to do?”

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