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Alberta education minister may force CBE to reverse teacher layoffs

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Frustrations and disappointment from Calgary families feeling caught in the middle of a conflict between the provincial government and the Calgary Board of Education. Jill Croteau has more on the developments for those impacted by the ongoing battle – Nov 22, 2019

There is continued concern from parents over the Calgary Board of Education’s decision to lay off 300 temporary teachers in light of the provincial budget.

Sabina Fabbian is a parent of a Grade 7 student attending Rideau Park School. She said she’s upset many of her son’s teachers are now going to lose their jobs, and said she doesn’t understand why those decisions are being made.

READ MORE: Calgary Board of Education to cut 300 temporary teachers amid $32M shortfall

“I think both groups should take responsibility and I don’t think the provincial government [decision] is timely — they should have done this at the end of the school year,” Fabbian said.

“Perhaps the CBE needs to reconsider and look at their spending habits and what they can do to help us as a community.”

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Officials with the office of Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said the government is considering options in response to CBE layoffs.

“Our government sympathizes with the education professionals, students and their parents who are affected by the CBE’s rash decision. Minister LaGrange was extremely clear when she stated that she expects all school divisions to prioritize the classroom as they make adjustments to their budgets,” said press secretary Colin Aitchison.

“She will await the results of the independent financial audit and governance review before deciding next steps. That being said, the minister has made it clear that all options are on the table,” Aitchison said.

Among those options under consideration: a directive to force the school board to cancel the layoffs.

READ MORE: CBE announces $32M funding shortfall in wake of 2019 Alberta budget

For this school year at least, the CBE seems to be the only school board letting teachers go. The Calgary Catholic Board, the Edmonton Public School Board and the Lethbridge School Boards have all said front line staff won’t be affected.

“The Calgary Catholic School District does not anticipate any layoffs at this time. We are managing our budget shortfall through drawing down our reserves and finding efficiencies where we can. We are considering every option at our disposal to protect our classrooms and staff as much as possible,” Board of Trustees chair Mary Martin said.

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“Staffing levels in our division remain unchanged for this year. Our division has a modest surplus to help offset the shortfall in funding we’re facing,” said Anna Batchelor with the Edmonton Public Schools.

The CBE didn’t respond to direct questions, instead referring Global News to a Board of Trustees statement provided a few days ago.

“In a large organization that welcomes all students and serves very diverse needs we have made decisions within the financial constraints under which we operate. The 2017 operational review of the CBE conducted by the provincial government found that our spending was in line with those of other large school boards in the province. We are extremely proud of the work staff do each day across the system to ensure students are at the forefront of everything we do.”

READ MORE: Alberta budget 2019 includes cuts to cities, civil servants, universities

Parents are frustrated over the conflict between the two parties.

“I don’t know if intelligence is prevailing here. I think people need to take a step back and understand there is a wrongdoing for sure and it needs to be rectified, but the current solutions being proposed are not effective for those impacted the most,” Fabbian said.