On Saturday, March 5, 2016, the Toronto Star published the following article about pending TDSB cuts to Early Childhood Educators and support staff.
Toronto’s public board is looking at cutting more than 100 teachers as well as 45 early childhood educators for this fall as enrolment continues to decline.
In a report to trustees who sit on the budget and enrolment committee, board staff outlined a number of proposed changes, including 38 fewer elementary teachers, 64 fewer high school teachers and 45 ECE’s working in full-day kindergarten classrooms.
Also on the hit-list are 46 lunchroom supervisors, five caretakers and four secretaries. A final vote is expected March 9.
“The changes are based on declining enrolment,” said Trustee Ken Lister, who heads the budget committee, adding he fully expects they’ll be covered by attrition as opposed to layoffs.
It will, however, mean fewer teachers hired for this fall, though class sizes will remain the same, he added.
The Toronto District School Board saw fewer students this school year — expecting 245,162 but instead seeing 242,753 — in part because of an ongoing protest by parents who are upset with the updated sex-ed curriculum. This fall, it forecasts enrolment will be 241,211.
John Smith of the Elementary Teachers of Toronto said he can’t understand teacher cutbacks, especially when those in full-day kindergarten classes are contending with more than 30 students.
There’s a lot of confusion and political finger-pointing about funding, “but the bottom line is the ministry says it is putting more money into schools and obviously that’s not happening. All we see are larger class sizes.”
Early childhood educators are in high-demand in schools, and “that’s a fairly big chunk to be taken out of the system,” said Colleen Costa, vice-president of Unit C of Local 4400 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents the ECEs.
Lister said the board’s budget committee is also looking at enrolment issues, trying to figure out if students are leaving the city for the 905, for public schools or the Catholic system, and if particular schools are struggling.
He said staff have asked the province for data, since every student is assigned a unique number and can be tracked throughout the system.
“We’d like to be able to get that data on a meta-level,” he said.
Overall, the board is looking at a budget shortfall of $11 million to $14 million for this school year.
Currently, 29 full-day kindergarten classrooms, of a total of 1,395, have 31 or more students — 23 classes at 31 and 6 classes at 32.
Pat Rocco, the board’s head of employee services, said changes to central administration will be up next. Staffing levels for unionized employees like teachers must be decided early so that enough notice can be given in case of any potential layoffs, as per collective agreements.
The board is not proposing any changes to those who work with special education students, be they teachers or support staff.
In total, the board has 10,580 elementary teachers in classrooms, and is proposing a drop to 10,542.
It currently has 4,869 high school teachers, which is proposed to go down to 4,805.
Its staff of early childhood educators will go from 1,264 to 1,219.