KAMLOOPS – The school board’s budget was made official Monday evening, just days after lay-off notices were distributed to a total of 15 teachers and learning assistants.
The budget included some challenging decisions this year, and it's believed this will be the trend for the foreseeable future. The Friday before the bylaw passed, 15 positions, a combination of full-time teachers and learning assistants, were given notices of lay-off.
Supt. Karl deBrujin says the hope for the fall is those given notices will be able to be placed in September, though not necessarily in the same position. Those affected will have to bid into jobs that match their qualifications.
“In the end we think we’ll have enough jobs to put everybody back to work,” he says.
However, he admits the number of retirements has, so far, been ‘lighter than normal.’ It has happened in the past that the question to lay-off or not is answered by how many teachers actually retire.
“Normally we ask people to give us notification of retirement 60-90 days in advance, but we accept retirements at any time,” deBrujin says, adding that often times teachers make up their minds at the last minute.
DeBrujin explains senior staff were kept in favour of junior, less experienced teachers, as per the collective bargaining agreement.
While declining enrolment is a major factor in determining lay-offs, something that can’t be answered fully until September. While initial enrolment numbers show the district losing 386 students, de Brujin says it’s not a firm number yet. They know how many students are graduating this year and how many are currently enrolled, but they don’t know how many will move into or out of the district, or how many more are yet to register for kindergarten.
While David Komljenovic, head of the teacher’s union, understands the board hopes to place those affected come fall, he can’t forgive the insecurity they have caused.
“The school board has still created a lot of uncertainty and could have addressed this by releasing more of the reserve fund,” he says, a complaint of the union’s from the preliminary stages of the budget.
“I don’t feel anything’s changed. I looked at the budget and it was identical to what was there before.” Komljenovic says when asked if the board had taken any of the union’s suggestions during the preliminary stages of the budget.
He wonders what the purpose of a consultation process was when the board would present the same information again.
The union’s position has been, and remains, there is an unfair burden of cuts to teaching staff because school administration has actually increased.
“When we’re in a time of declining enrolment its funny there seems to be a justification to add administrators to the system,” Komljenovic says.
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