The Northwest Catholic District School Board has announced the first round of casualties from the ministry’s new funding model, declaring 4.75 teaching positions as surplus.
The decision was made at Saturday’s regular board meeting in Dryden, during which the 1998-99 preliminary budget, which predicted a $117,000 shortfall, was presented to trustees.
Education director Paul Jackson was in Sioux Lookout yesterday to address the staffing issue.
“We’ve got to staff our schools at 25 to one,” he said. “You determine the number of teacher you need next year and then you see how many you have.”
“We were expecting some layoffs,” admitted Cathy Brindle, president of the local Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association.
“And the funding model was no good for us,” she added. “It appeared we got some kind of increase—we did not. The budget lines did not meet our expenses.”
Although the cuts seem minor compared to the more than 60 teachers who received pink slips in the former Kenora Board of Education (public), Jackson said the cuts will have some repercussions.
“We do have several [teachers] that may have to relocate,” he said, adding a few will have some hard choices to make in the next while.
Brindle said relocation is no easy thing for any employee to go through, especially with the new boundaries of the school board.
“They could be moved, technically, all the way from Stratton to Sioux Lookout,” she noted, where before the worst relocation could have been from Stratton to Fort Frances.
“So if you have a family, or are one of two wage earners, that will be a difficult task,” she said.
Non-teaching staff numbers with the Catholic board have not been touched yet, Jackson said, but he noted the board still has work to do in making its budget match with the budget lines doled out by the province.
Jackson didn’t know when the final details of the budget would be hammered out but Brindle didn’t see things getting any better as the process continued.
“I think that, yes, it’s going to get worse,” she said. “I really think this funding model was set up so we will fail [fiscally] so the government can say, ‘They can’t handle the money.’
“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” she warned.