London

TVDSB learning coordinators, teachers on special assignment to be declared 'surplus' come September

A number of staffers at the Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) are bracing for a possible fall job change after the province announced an end to a two-year influx of local priority funding through the Ministry of Education.

The TVDSB director of education says she doesn't expect any job losses

The Thames Valley Education Centre main offices on Dundas St. (Dave Chidley/CBC)

A number of staffers at the Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) are bracing for a possible fall job change after the province announced an end to a two-year influx of local priority funding through the Ministry of Education.

All learning coordinators and teachers on special assignment will be declared surplus, according to a memo sent to staff by TVDSB director of education Laura Elliott.

Staffers in these positions are trained teachers who will return to the classroom come Sept. 1, she said.

"At the end of the day, we don't anticipate any job loss," Elliott said.

Laura Elliott says some learning coordinators and teachers on special assignment could wind up back in their current roles, pending an announcement from another funding stream. (Paula Duhatschek/CBC)

The local priority funding had also paid for several staff in other positions, including custodians, educational assistants and clerical workers, Elliott said. People in these positions will be absorbed into other areas of the school board, she said.

Some staffing arrangements could still shift between now and September, Elliott said, as the school board awaits word on another provincial funding stream, the Grants for Students Needs. That announcement is expected later in the month, Elliott said.

The London District Catholic School Board is also aware that the local priority funding won't be renewed, but has not sent out a staff memo, according to communications and faith liaison officer Mark Adkinson. 

Impact on special education

The school board's learning coordinators and teachers on special assignment have been tasked with a number of roles, such as working on the provincial math strategy, supporting Indigenous education and coaching teachers on how to improve their practice.

Many of the roles specifically involved working in support of special needs or special education, Elliott said.

The change in assignment for these teachers comes in the wake of another announcement regarding the province's autism program. School-aged children with autism, who used to spend much of their time in therapy, will soon be expected to attend school for longer periods.

"When [these students] are returning to schools and classrooms, again we want to make sure our teachers are really well-equipped to support our students with special needs and those with autism," Elliott said. 

"It is cause for concern and we will continue discussions with the deputy minister of education and assistant deputy ministers."

Bill Tucker, former TVDSB superintendent of special education, says the two changes happening concurrently could have "unintended consequences."

"It's going to make life a lot more challenging for students and teachers and for the students in those classes," said Bill Tucker.

Tucker advised parents to await further information from the school board about funding for the next school year. 

If, once the full picture emerges, parents are unhappy, he says "they need to advocate with their local MPP and with the government."

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