Manitoba

Closing educational resource library act of 'bad faith' by province, union says

News of the impending closure of a library of classroom materials for teachers came without consultation with educators, the union representing teachers says.

Province closing centre Apr. 1, moving resource online

The Curriculum Support Centre is located in the Robert Fletcher Building. (Google Street View)

News of the impending closure of a library of classroom materials for teachers came without consultation with educators, the union representing teachers says.

Norm Gould, the president of the Manitoba Teachers' Society, accused the provincial government of acting in "bad faith" by unilaterally making the decision to close the Curriculum Support Centre.

"We are frankly shocked that Manitoba teachers had no input into such a pivotal decision, especially during an education review that was billed as wide-open and free of pre-conceived ideas," Gould said in a news release.

The centre, located in the Robert Fletcher Building at the corner of Portage Avenue and Wall Street, catalogues printed resources and distributes them to school divisions when requested. The province is moving the centre's resources online and moving the 13 staff members into different positions, a government spokesperson said in an email.

About 80 per cent of the centre's inventory is in print only, and some of it is out of date, the spokesperson said.

"We will make more curriculum resources available online and distribute existing physical resources through the education system," the spokesperson said, adding that services for students with visual impairments will still be accessible in the building.

The centre costs $1.7 million to operate, the province said.

Some teachers reacted with shock on social media after learning of the impending closure, which is scheduled for April 1.

The NDP's education critic said the library's closure is a huge loss, especially for rural and northern teachers. 

"We want to make sure that this resource is not cut, that this is available to them, and in this case, this is a resource that teachers are saying is very specific to the kind of work that they're doing with the Manitoba curriculum," Matt Wiebe said.

Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen said during question period by putting these resources online, they could be more equitably shared with teachers across the province. 

"There's been something developed called the internet," he said.

The statement from the teachers' society said there are "pros and cons" to moving the library's resources online, but Gould questioned why the issue wasn't included in the province's ongoing review of K-12 education.

The centre will cease giving out loans on March 15.

With files from Ian Froese

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