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2014-07-03 at 16:05

Looming cuts

By Leith Dunick, tbnewswatch.com
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THUNDER BAY -- The director of education at Lakehead Public Schools says declining enrolment is the main reason the board is cutting 17 teaching positions and an undetermined number of support staff.

Ian MacRae on Thursday said the trend is more noticeable at the board’s four secondary schools, said he’s hoping most of the job losses can be realized through attrition – retirements and leaves of absences – rather than layoffs.

About 400 fewer students are expected in classrooms come September.

MacRae stressed students shouldn’t notice any difference next fall when they return to the classroom.

“There are fewer students and they won’t really see the impact in terms of numbers. We’ll still be offering the breadth of programming, both in the classroom and academic programming, technical programming and extra-curricular activities will continue as such,” MacRae said.

The cuts hit everywhere, from the number of vice-principals the schools employ in local high schools to support staff in classrooms to office staff.

MacRae pointed to Hammarskjold as an example of a school facing lower student numbers, saying five years ago about 1,200 students were enrolled.

“It’s now down around 750 or 800,” he said. “That is a significant change.”

The board isn’t considering closing down another high school. In the past decade they’ve shuttered Port Arthur Collegiate Institute, Fort William Collegiate Institute and Hillcrest High School, opening Superior Collegiate Vocational institute in 2009.

The board at present operates four high schools in Thunder Bay.

“I don’t anticipate that number to change in the near future,” said MacRae, named to his position last month.

The story is a similar one at the Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board.

Pino Tassone, said they’ve eliminated a similar number of staffing positions, but through attrition, have managed not to have to lay anyone off that was planning to return in the fall.

“As well, we did some restructuring,” Tassone said, indicating support staff would see changes to their duties to spread out the workload to make up for less staff.

Tassone said the declining enrolment, particularly at the high school level where there were 120 fewer students this past school year – there were 70 fewer elementary students attending Catholic board schools – does not come as a surprise.

“It’s something that’s been projected. Obviously the numbers aren’t there. For the most part, people are having smaller families, whether one or two (kids),” he said. “We’ve projected this for a long period of time and we knew there would be a decline.”

The numbers were actually lower than projected, he said.

Tassone added he expects numbers will continue to drop slightly over the next few years, but he’s hoping after that it will plateau.

 

 

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Comments

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Molly says:
I have heard that the new High School has aprox. 500 students. This about the amount HHS is down.
It would appear these 2 schools could be amalgamated to achieve some further cost savings
7/3/2014 8:26:21 PM
jonthunder says:
This is a huge cut in costs. How much will taxes decline?
7/3/2014 10:07:47 PM
smartguy83 says:
taxes barely impact schools these days
7/4/2014 10:20:16 AM
livewire says:
If this does happen does the Education Tax that we pay for drops? I think not.
7/4/2014 7:55:19 AM
smartguy83 says:
This is a provincial question. And it shouldn't drop
7/4/2014 10:21:12 AM
think before you post says:
Hopefully the newly retired teachers will actually retire. They quite often supply teach and hold the same standing as current teachers that are not full time yet. It makes it very difficult for the active teachers to get enough time to have a liveable income. They should only be considered once the active teacher list as been gone through. The Rainy River district school boards have the same problem. If you retired back away from the table.
7/4/2014 9:52:16 AM
djs says:
If you are a newly graduated teacher, go away and do your time where teachers are needed--up north, in small isolated communities, etc. There are always places needing teachers, and if this is your passion, learn to go where the work is. Just because someone is retired, doesn't mean they are dead. In fact, they still possess knowledge and skills that most new teachers do not possess, and there is nothing that says someone who retires can't keep working. In fact, many retired people in many professions work after they retire. Also, in many cases, when someone retires, it does open up a spot for a new teacher. The RRDSB has days when they don't have enough supply teachers to cover absenteeism of its regular staff, and if you are expecting to live off your supply teaching wages today, you are delusional. Supply teaching is part time work--get another job to supplement your income or, like I said earlier, move to where the jobs are. Otherwise, learn to share...
7/4/2014 10:04:38 AM
bttnk says:
Why should they have to? Why can't a teacher with 25 years experience retire from full time work and supply teach a few days a week so as to ease the transition into full retirement? They've earned that right.

7/4/2014 10:52:47 AM
fastball says:
Yes, I've seen quite a few "retired" teachers getting call-in shifts for a couple of days a week - while young graduates sit and rot forever on the supply list. I know a retired teacher who's collecting a pension from the school board, works at Home Depot part-time, and STILL takes call-in shifts!!
If you're going to retire, then retire - and let the new generation have a chance.
7/4/2014 11:45:13 AM
Greenstoner says:
A number of teachers transition into full retirement over 2-3 years with the ability to supply teach. IMHO this is better than not retiring at all. It generally opens up a spot to hire somebody else full time (subject to student numbers). It provides for some supplemental income over that 2-3 years, as well as with some people, buffering the mental challenges of accepting full retirement. Some people need that transition time. This supply option is a nice perc that many teachers consider when making the decision to retire. They have certainly put in the time, and from a bargaining perspective, deserve it. Just my opinion.
7/4/2014 10:22:48 AM
advocate says:
Taxes will not drop, because there is a substantial deficit and pressures for other areas (such as university funding and health care).

What this will do is save some money to reduce the deficit so that further services that are used are not cut to the extent they would be.
7/4/2014 11:24:08 AM
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