More teaching positions cut around N.S.

Across Nova Scotia, dozens of teaching positions are being eliminated as boards cope with smaller enrolments and a two per cent budget cut.

Across Nova Scotia, dozens of teaching positions are being eliminated as school boards cope with smaller enrolments and a two per cent budget cut.

The Chignecto - Central Regional School Board confirmed Tuesday it is cutting 17 teacher positions and 8.5 equivalent consultant positions.

The Strait Regional School Board said it would lose 14 teachers and six administration staff, including three consultants.

The Annapolis Valley Regional School Board will lose 27 teaching positions and more than a dozen jobs at its regional office in Berwick as the result of provincial funding cuts.

The Halifax Regional School Board announced it is laying off 44 teaching positions.

"We are sending layoff notices to 44 probationary teachers," said Carole Olsen, the Halifax board's superintendent.

The Halifax Regional School Board said it has a surplus of elementary teachers and it needed to get rid of them to balance its budget.

"I've been superintendent here since July 1, 2002 and we've never had to do this before, so this is the first time in my experience here in the Halifax Regional School Board that we've had to give these kind of lay off notices to teachers," said Olsen.

The Halifax layoffs are being sent to probationary teachers who were in the final stages for qualifying for a permanent job.

Many of those teachers have spent years as a substitute teacher hoping to get permanent positions.

Olsen said by the time the budgeting process is completed, many of those getting layoff notices Tuesday may be able to get their positions back.

However it's certain that the board wants to permanently eliminate 15 elementary teachers.

The Nova Scotia Teachers Union had been warning that the cuts were about to happen.

"We don't have all the final numbers, but once they come in you'll be seeing a huge number of teachers that will not be back in the system, and those positions are gone. So that means larger class sizes, the composition of the classes will have less support," said Alexis Allen, head of the union.

In addition to the 44 teaching layoffs in Halifax, some administration cuts were also made.

"We've reduced our central office staff here by 32 people. Some of whom have gone back to classrooms and they're more senior than the teachers who are getting layoff notices today.  We've tried to look everywhere before we've had to look at the teachers in the classroom," Olsen said Tuesday.

Last week, the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board announced it was cutting 44 teaching positions.

On Wednesday, the South Shore Regional school board will deal with the teaching positions it plans to cut. It is expected that librarians and library technicians will given layoff notices.

As layoffs were being announced on Tuesday, Nova Scotia's education minister Ramona Jennex was unveiling a new reading and writing program for elementary students.