Hamilton

Public school board eliminating jobs for dozens of teaching experts

Dozens of Hamilton teachers working as consultants and specialists in local schools found out Monday their jobs no longer exist.

Teachers working as consultants and specialists found out Monday their roles will no longer exist

Teaching positions have been eliminated at the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board. (Frederick Florin/AFP/Getty Images)

Dozens of Hamilton teachers working as consultants and specialists in key subject areas found out Monday their roles will no longer exist.

Amid the provincial government's decision to increase class sizes and alongside expectations of funding cuts, 80 consultants, special assignment teachers and specialists have been told their jobs "are in surplus," said Hamilton public board spokesperson Shawn McKillop.

No one has been laid off yet, as teachers currently in these positions will be moved to another role within the board. But this means the board is cutting jobs for people who often work with some of the city's most vulnerable kids.

Generally, consultants are teachers with special expertise in a given subject area like math, literacy or special education. They are typically assigned to a group of schools to design and deliver professional development for classroom teachers, on top of working with students.

Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board chair Alex Johnstone said it "would be significant" to lose all those positions, given their work with students most in need of help.

"Hamilton has such high needs," she said, noting that one in five of the city's students live in poverty.

We are concerned that there might be redundancies when it comes to secondary teachers.- Manny Figueiredo , director of education

Though the school board is hopeful the province will provide additional funding for services, officials are still working with next to no official budget figures from the province — leaving the board to plan for a worst-case scenario, but hoping for a better one."

It's a budget based on assumptions from the worst-case scenario," said Johnstone.

"That is not responsible planning."

Trustees voted to cut 136 positions total at a school board meeting Monday evening, "due to changes in current funding allocations and a delay in the Ministry of Education's funding announcement to schools," McKillop said. That announcement is expected to come by late April.

"In a typical year, we would have received clarity from the Ministry of Education in terms of the funding that we would have received by now," McKillop said.

Alex Jonstone is the chair of the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board. She says the board is hopeful it will receive additional funding from the province later this month. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

Manny Figueiredo, director of education, said in a statement that secondary school teachers make up the largest chunk of the reductions.

"While we are hopeful that no HWDSB employee will lose a job through the budget process, we are concerned that there might be redundancies when it comes to secondary teachers," Figueiredo said.

 "We will not be in a position to declare secondary teachers redundant to the board until the end of April."

A redundancy would be the equivalent to a pink slip.

The province could start bargaining at the end of this month with teachers and education workers, whose contracts expire at the end of August.

Teachers' unions have already expressed concerns about the government's plans for education.

Premier Doug Ford is telling teachers not to strike, saying they have a good deal with three months of holidays and the best benefits and pensions in the country.

adam.carter@cbc.ca

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Adam Carter

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Adam Carter is a Newfoundlander who now calls Toronto home. He enjoys a good story and playing loud music in dank bars. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamCarterCBC or drop him an email at adam.carter@cbc.ca.

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