PEI

Putting teachers where the kids are: Public Schools Branch reallocating positions

Schools on P.E.I. are learning how many teachers they will have next year, leading to complaints from the Opposition about cuts to rural schools.

Public Schools Branch not ready to say where teachers are going

Schools across P.E.I. are learning how many teachers they will have next year. (Lindsay Carroll/CBC)

Schools on P.E.I. are learning how many teachers they will have next year, leading to complaints from the Opposition about cuts to rural schools.

Education critic Steven Myers said on Twitter he is getting calls about cuts from staff and parents, this morning tweeting out the numbers he was hearing. 

Education critic Steven Myers says he's getting calls from school staff and parents. (Krystalle Ramlakhan/CBC)

"Most of them aren't very happy taking a cut," said Myers. "A lot of them feel like they've already been dealing with trying to operate a school with a lack of teacher resources as it is."

"If this government had any sense at all they'd spend the money, hire the teachers and put on the best possible education system they can. They've had 10 years trying and they've failed miserably every time."

Nothing new, says PSB

But Public Schools Branch director Parker Grimmer told CBC News reallocating teacher positions in the spring is nothing new.

Grimmer acknowledges the process is getting more attention this year.

Parker Grimmer says teacher allocations are about equity. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

From September through April the Public Schools Branch conducted a review that eventually recommended the closure of three schools. The province vetoed the closures.

Grimmer said he didn't get any new teaching positions in the process, and has to put teachers where the kids are.

"We're looking at this through the lens of trying to find greater equity and fairness: equal size classes in schools that are configured equally can expect roughly the same number of staff," said Grimmer.

Grimmer would not say exactly how many jobs are on the move and if allocation will mean more teachers for city schools at the expense of rural ones.

Teachers concerned

With unofficial numbers flying around on social media today, the PEI Teachers' Federation said the reallocation is causing stress. 

"The needs are just so much more diverse and teachers are finding it hard to keep up, and this has not helped matters for sure," said PEITF president Bethany MacLeod 

MacLeod hadn't received any numbers either but has made a request to meet with the Public School's Branch.

She said in that meeting, she could be asking for more teaching positions than the 20-25 she predicted last week.

Government still working on staffing numbers

In an email statement from the Department of Education said that preliminary numbers were given to the schools based on student populations and that the negotiations continue.

"Minister Currie advised the PSB that if staffing levels need to be adjusted or additional positions are required, Government will explore all its options to ensure the necessary supports are available," the statement said.

"The Public School Branch is still in discussion with principals in regard to preliminary staffing numbers. Final numbers will be shared as soon as they are known."

With files from Island Morning

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