Avon-Maitland teachers challenge redundancy notices, job loss claims - May 23, 2019
BY DENNY SCOTT
Thirty-four of the most junior teachers in the Avon-Maitland District School Board have been handed redundancy notices, meaning they may not have a full-time position for the 2019-2020 period.
After seeking an audience with Minister of Education and Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson for 10 months, Avon-Maitland – Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario President Kent Cleland finally held a press conference of his own in front of Thompson’s Blyth constituency office last Thursday afternoon, plastering the window of the office with redundancy notices.
Cleland explained that, as a result of changes to the provincial budget implemented by Thompson and Premier Doug Ford, the Avon-Maitland District School Board had $2.6 million lost in its budget, leading to the redundancy notices.
The shortfall, according to Cleland, can be tied not only to cuts to funds for the area, but also to the provincial government’s choice to make childcare funding part of the education budget, removing millions of dollars from school board budgets.
The 34 notices explained that, as the junior-most members of the board’s teaching complement, the teachers will not have completed their probationary period, meaning that the teachers would be put on the “Recall List”, giving them access to the right of recall to positions they are qualified for, in order of seniority. They will remain on the list for two years.
The redundancy notices explain that a report outlining the lost positions will be considered by the school board at its May 28 meeting, and, if accepted, the cut positions will be official and the teachers’ employment will be terminated effective Aug. 31.
Cleland explained that this is the second time in 10 years that redundancy notices have been issued throughout the Avon-Maitland District School Board, and that, with 34 notices being issued, it’s a far more critical change than when the board previously issued five in 2016.
He said that 27 schools across the board will be losing at least one teacher, and those 34 teachers represent more than 130 years of teaching experience, as well as over 100 extra courses taken by those teachers to better themselves for their positions.
When asked if these teachers may find other positions, or if their positions may re-open by the time the 2019-2020 school year starts, Cleland said he remains hopeful that “sense will come” to those responsible for the cuts and some of the positions may be restored.
Cleland said, in no uncertain terms, that students will suffer, communities will suffer and programs will be cut as a result of the change.
When asked what his message would be to graduates trying to enter the teaching field, who are now competing against redundant teachers as well as their peers, he said to “stick with it.” Those teachers, Cleland said, may not make it into the field for three years as a result of the changes, but emphasized the importance of young teachers being a part of the education system.
The announcement that 34 elementary-level teachers received redundancy notices across the Avon-Maitland District School Board comes weeks after 69 secondary school teachers in the board received notices.