April 5, 2019 11:15 am
Updated: April 5, 2019 4:36 pm

Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board may cut 55 secondary school teaching jobs due to funding loss

Cuts are coming for local teachers. The public board says it will need to slash 55 teaching jobs next year and is projecting 90 job losses over the next four years. Mark Giunta reports.

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When the 2019-20 school year starts in September, there will likely be 55 fewer secondary school teachers in the Kawartha Pine Ridge (KPR) District School Board.

The board is dealing with a loss of funding that is estimated to be about $8.5 million.  It won’t know the exact number until its budget numbers are received from the Ministry of Education.

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That loss of funding will also lead to 300 fewer non-academic courses within the board next year.

According to board chair Diane Lloyd, there will be 20 to 35 layoffs, depending on the number of retirements.

“The reason we are here in the first place is to provide education to students.  This will affect that.  We are deeply concerned some of our teachers will lose their jobs,” said Lloyd.  “We’re doing everything we can to look at efficiencies department by department.”

However, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) District 14, which represents teachers within this board, says it actually expects the number of retirements to be closer to 35, which means fewer layoffs.

“There are 20 teachers who have been working in our board that will not have a job next September if these cuts come through,” said Dave Warda, president of OSSTF District 14.

“This is a cut that is promised to keep going. There are very poor prospects for those teachers and teachers coming out of college.”

The KPR board projects 90 positions will be lost over the next four years.

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This comes after the province announced it would increase class sizes in high schools from 22 to 28 students per teacher and classes in grades 4 to 8 from 23 to 24 students per teacher.

“KPR has a declining enrolment,” said Peterborough-Kawartha MPP Dave Smith by phone from Queen’s Park late Thursday. “The reality is we don’t have as many kids. That’s the reality. The KPR is projecting 100 less high school students. Every year, at the end of March, KPR issues layoff notices.”

“We do have a small number that were affected by declining enrollment, but it’s not very big, I believe it was 60 students, but after next year it levels off,” added Lloyd.

The projection at Peterborough, Victoria, Northumberland and Clarington Catholic District School Board (PVNCCDSB) is 56 teaching positions over the next four years.

“We’re in the preliminary stages of planning and consultations are still open on class size until the end of May,” said Michelle Griepsma, board chair.   “From what I’ve seen so far, that’s quite a bit less than our coterminous, but we are a smaller board.”

Meanwhile, the president of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA), which represents teachers within the PVNCCDSB, hasn’t heard official numbers for cuts.

“I haven’t heard of any cuts, but we meet on May 1 to discuss staffing,” said Kelly McNeely, local OECTA unit president. “I do know that there will (be) higher-than-normal surpluses, especially in high schools.”

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At the public elementary school level, the local branch of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) is still waiting to hear how the cuts will affect jobs with their members.

“We do absolutely think that wave is coming,” said David Berger, vice-president of Kawartha Pine Ridge ETFO. “The government is taking its time to roll out its cuts to see how the public responds to them. It’s important for us to be mobilized and have our teachers talking.”

Local teachers will join a large rally at Queen’s Park on Saturday. Buses leave from Crestwood Secondary School in Peterborough at about 9:30 a.m.

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