School board blames labour ‘unrest’ for looming cuts
Teachers’ union says Sudbury Rainbow Board official is wrong
Enrollment is down and lay-offs are coming for teachers and administrative staff with the Rainbow District School Board in Sudbury.
And while the school board blames the months of labour unrest for the cuts, the union representing secondary school teachers in this city disagrees.
"We didn't put in Bill 115, so if you're going to blame that, you can blame the Ontario government for that," said James Clyke, president of the local union representing public secondary school teachers.
"When we had a meeting with [the board] last week … we discussed the staffing levels. At that meeting they were indicating that it was because of the labour strife as well, and it just doesn't wash out with us."
Breaking down the numbers:
- 258 student loss forecast for the elementary level.
- 312 student loss forecast at the high school level.
Sudbury's public school board is predicting a drop of 570 students next year — more than what director of education Norm Blaseg expected.
"It is a significant challenge for us, we did not anticipate the numbers that we currently have," he said, noting the unrest drove students to other schools.
"Obviously it's the impact of the various activities that happened throughout the year with the labour unrest. It's showing its mark."
But Clyke said Blaseg is wrong.
"We've looked at the numbers ourselves and the percentage of enrollment decline has been pretty consistent over the past 10 years," Clyke said.
"[It’s] certainly not more dramatic this year than in the last five years."
Blaseg said he can't give a sense of just how many teachers and admin staff will be laid off just yet, but says they'll be told in early May.
He said he hopes this year is a blip — and that students will return to the public board next school year.
"It's been a while since I think we've experienced this kind of drop … it's been a very challenging year and, as a group we need to move past this challenge and hope that it doesn't happen again," Blaseg said.
"So we look forward to returning to normal in the very near future."