May 25th, 2017

Staffing cutbacks for SD 76 do not mean layoffs


By Tim Kalinowski on May 19, 2017.

Ross Glen School Grade 2 teacher Shawna Boodhoo assists students Chase McDermott, Ethan Albano and Max Smith in her class on Thursday. SD76 has included some staffing cuts in its 2017/2018 budget, but those should have very little impact on students at local schools, says superintendent Mark Davidson.--NEWS PHOTO TIM KALINOWSKI


tkalinowski@medicinehatnews.com
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While some staff cuts have been proposed in the 2017/18 SD76 budget, superintendent Mark Davidson says the impact at the classroom level should not be felt by students.

“The cut in the full-time equivalents is across the whole system,” says Davidson. “In some cases that might mean in hours to an individual. In some cases, it might be accomplished through attrition … We have a number of people who come and work for our system, and then they leave to take other positions or retire. So we do not believe we will be in a place where we’ll be laying off a lot of people.”

SD76 announced Tuesday it would be cutting 11.2 support staff positions, 2.5 full-time teaching positions and 11.9 education assistant, including PUF (special needs), positions.

Davidson says in the case of PUF positions the division is looking to re-allocate resources from paraprofessional (EA) to professional time instead.

“The inclusive learning team made a decision to move resources from some support staff into increasing the amount of teacher time assigned to program unit funding students. So we haven’t reduced the amount of support provided to those students. We just added more professional time in exchange for some paraprofessional time.”

Davidson explains the teaching positions being cut will also be achieved through attrition, not layoffs.

“We are expecting to have 2.5 fewer teachers in the system than what we have this year if our enrolment is stable,” he says. “While we are projecting our enrolment will be static, where it is lower is in the primary levels. We normally put more teachers in classrooms per capita the Grades 1, 2 and 3 levels; so with a lower number of students we require fewer teachers at that end. But we will not be laying off any teachers, because our retirements and attrition are great enough, we are hiring at a good clip to keep up.”

He acknowledges these cuts could lead to increased classroom size in a few instances.

“We are anticipating a 0.25 student per teacher increase across the system. It is very hard to make that perfect because you will have one circumstance where it is easy to split to make two perfectly-sized classrooms, and other circumstances where it isn’t so. We in the district use averages, not hard targets.”

Davidson adds the overall cuts are necessary because student enrolment growth is expected to be static in the fall. Some of the additional FTE positions now being cut were also originally hired because of an unanticipated five per cent jump in student enrolment this past September.

“This reduction brings us back to the staffing levels our student numbers would normally indicate,” says Davidson.


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