May 1, 2019 2:00 am
Updated: May 1, 2019 3:34 pm

Hamilton public school board to lay off 99 high school teachers due to provincial funding cuts

Hamilton's public school board says a decrease in government funding has forced a cut in the number of high school teachers they will carry in 2019-2020.

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Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) is eliminating 99 school teachers because of recent funding changes imposed by the Doug Ford government.

The revelation was made in a statement on Tuesday night from HWDSB chair Alex Johnstone who said “the Board of Trustees continue to work through a difficult and challenging budget as well as staffing process.”

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Johnstone referred to the positions as “redundant” and said “trustees have made all attempts to reduce the local impact of the changes coming from the Ministry.”

The number of teachers to be cut is higher than the 79 the HWDSB suggested to Global News they would eliminate going into a board meeting in early April.

LISTEN: Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board chair Alex Johnstone talks to Global News Radio’s Bill Kelly

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“Trustees have made all attempts to reduce the local impact of the changes coming from the Ministry,” Johnstone said in Tuesday’s statement, “The cuts amount to the equivalent of staffing for more than two full high schools, and impact staff who have been working with the board for up to six years.”

READ MORE: Hamilton’s public school board poised to eliminate 136 positions due to provincial cuts

Trustees say Grants for Student Needs (GSNs) announced by Queens Park on Friday were the root of the changes. The grants, according to Johnstone, are how the Ministry provides the majority of operating funding to Ontario’s 72 district school boards.

WATCH: Ontario budget cuts are ‘shortsighted, cruel, and an economic disaster’: Hajdu

On Friday, the Ontario government announced 2019-20 school board funding which cut the amount of money school boards will receive per student.

Boards will get an average of $12,246 per pupil in 2019-20 compared to the $12,300 in 2018-2019.

Johnstone says the “reduced funding” for education programs, local priorities, and increased secondary class sizes were included in the board’s calculations, as well as local reductions that resulted from school consolidations and declining enrollment.

READ MORE: Ontario high school teachers to start first step of bargaining process

“These changes negatively affect HWDSB, its employees, students, and families, through the loss of 99 full and part-time high school teaching staff, ” Johnstone said in her statement, “This is the equivalent of staffing of more than two high schools.”

Johnstone told Global News that she anticipates 35 individuals will retire during a restructuring of the teaching pools.

The HWDSB says it will pursue clarification on the Education Ministry’s attrition program in the hopes of ensuring no job loss and a recall of teachers.

A final budget framework is expected in June, which will likely include a hiring freeze on additional management and executive positions.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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