‘We want to be teaching’: Laid-off TDSB teachers discuss options

WATCH ABOVE: More than 100 high school teachers met at the TDSB head office Thursday to discuss what options are available to them after being laid off or having their hours cut. Caryn Lieberman reports.

English and history teacher Jonathan Lefresne left a meeting at the Toronto District School Board office Thursday feeling deflated.

“At this point, we are waiting for recall, which is a possibility, and we don’t know whether everybody who was laid off now will be recalled,” Lefresne said.

He has been a teacher with the TDSB for the last six years and was finally offered a contract last year. But he later learned he would be out of a job.

“I just get to sit around waiting for a phone call in the morning to go to one school one day, one school the other day,” said Lefresne, who will now rely on the supply teacher list.

READ MORE: Ontario education workers’ union takes 1st step toward legal strike position

He is one of approximately 155 secondary school teachers in Toronto who are either fully laid off or working reduced hours.

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There are about 80 positions that have been retained by the TDSB to fill throughout the school year.

“We hope that a majority of those 80 will be recalled during the year, thus reducing that overall number of secondary teachers impacted,” said TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird.

“Unfortunately, though, the fact is there will be some left over that do not have positions.”

Other teachers who attended the TDSB meeting Thursday said they are now without job security.

READ MORE: Around 300 TDSB jobs to be scrapped for 2019-2020 school year, report says

“I have a mortgage and I have a family and now I don’t have a job. I’m surplused to the board as of August 31st,” said Chantal Faria.

“It puts us in a really tight position.”

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Her friend, fellow secondary school teacher Katelyn Clay, noted, “2018-2019 was my first contract year and it was the best moment of my career. It was amazing, followed by being surplused.

“That was really hard.”

Ryan Bird pointed to budget reductions, class size changes and the elimination of the Local Priorities Fund by the province as reasons for the cuts.

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Leslie Wolfe of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation said there needs to be a better way to go about the changes.

WATCH: (Aug. 28) Report outlines job cuts because of TDSB shortfall, provincial cuts

Report outlines job cuts because of TDSB shortfall, provincial cuts
Report outlines job cuts because of TDSB shortfall, provincial cuts

“In a board like Toronto where there are such complex needs of students, the last thing that we should be doing is cutting. We should be investing,” said Wolfe.

In a statement following the TDSB meeting Thursday, Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce said, “We continue to call on all parties to reach a deal as soon as possible to provide predictability and confidence to parents, students, and educators alike.”

Educators Chantal Faria and Katelyn Clay, meanwhile, just want to be back in the classroom.

“We want to be teaching. We want to be working,” Faria said.

As it stands, though, school is still out for them.

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