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TDSB loses nearly 300 jobs ahead of new school year due to Ford cuts
Chris Herhalt, CP24.com
Published Tuesday, August 27, 2019 6:13PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, August 28, 2019 10:22AM EDT
Toronto’s largest school board says it has cut, or plans to cut, the equivalent of at least 296 full-time positions due to Ford government cutbacks as the new school year begins next week.
A document to be presented to board members on Wednesday indicates the organization has largely completed the cuts it had to make due to changes in school board funding implemented earlier this year by the Ford government.
The cuts, reached through layoffs or attrition, affect many aspects of the board’s functions, ranging from principals but also custodians, athletic coaches, reading coaches, speech pathologists, social workers, guidance counsellors, psychology staff members and librarians.
“The budget reductions mean a smaller senior team, fewer Coordinating Principals and reductions in academic, business, operations and professional support services staff,” board staff write in the document.
Other measures the board is undertaking to shoulder the cuts include reducing the number of students attending specialized schools who are eligible for TTC fares to and from school if they live far away, and an unspecified increase to fees paid by students who attend schools with International Baccalaureate (IB) programs.
All told, the changes save the board $46.8 million this year, on a budget of roughly $3.2 billion.
The board had previously released documents disclosing some of the positions to be cut, but the latest update reflects the most recent budget calculation and also correspondence with the Ministry of Education.
NDP education critic Marit Stiles says the report is “confirmation that we are losing a lot of other workers in our education system,” besides teachers.
“The memo doesn’t even cover the full extent of teaching jobs that will be lost – that hasn’t even been fully accounted for.”
Earlier this year, previous Education Minister Lisa Thompson announced that average class sizes in grades 4 to 8 would increase from 23 students to 24, while grade 9 to 12 classes would grow from 22 to 28 students on average.
The Ministry says the change would result in 3,475 teaching positions lost but insists the change would be achieved through attrition.
The NDP, Liberals and major teachers unions each dispute the idea that all positions will be lost through attrition.
Stiles said the loss of positions such as custodians will definitely be felt by students.
“Talk to parents about how important a custodian is in your school – it’s the difference between a school being clean and functioning well or not.”
She added that next year the board will likely have to repeat the process and make further cuts.
“This is only year one. Next year, unless the government reverses course, we will see another round of cuts and it’s just going to get worse,” Stiles said.
A spokesperson for Education Minister Stephen Lecce said they were still preparing a response to the cuts disclosed in the TDSB memo.
A breakdown of TDSB cuts for 2019:
Learning coaches in schools: 41 full-time equivalents
Guidance counsellors: 15 full-time equivalents
Early reading coaches: 8 full-time equivalents
Senior administration and centrally assigned principals: 20 full-time equivalents
Other administration: 18 full-time equivalents
Social workers, psychology, speech pathology and other support: 21 full-time equivalents
Teachers in arts, robotics, phys-ed, ESL, math, English, French and experiential learning: 36 full-time equivalents
Libraries: 15 full-time equivalents
Facilities: 73 full-time equivalents including tradespeople, custodians, management and summer student positions.
High school vice-principals: 7 full-time equivalents
Specialized teaching: 13 full-time equivalents
Other: 29 full-time equivalents