Lakehead Public Schools to lay off 17 teachers
Thunder Bay vice principals, student support personnel, secretarial staff will also be affected
Thunder Bay schools will resume classes next fall with fewer teachers, as declining enrolment has led to layoffs at at the public school board.
Lakehead Public Schools will reduce its teaching staff by 17 next fall, due to declining enrolment.
Superintendent of education Ian MacRae said enrolment will drop by 400 in September.
There will be other staff cuts as well.
"We reduced everywhere — right from the number of vice principals in secondary schools, to student support personnel, to our secretarial staff, all the way down, as a result of the reduction in the number of students and the reduction in funding,” MacRae said.
He added that projections show enrolment for the board should stabilize after next year.
Hopeful for more student enrolment
The head of the Thunder Bay branch of the high school teachers union said teachers with less seniority are losing their jobs, and those who return to class will also notice changes.
"As schools become smaller, there are certainly challenges within them to maintain the level of service and programming that our students and their families have been accustomed to,” Paul Caccamo said.
“The other part too is, teachers are split between schools and things like that."
Caccamo said he hopes a recovering economy in Thunder Bay will mean more families, and more students in classrooms in future years.
He didn't rule out the possibility of suggesting amalgamating schools if the enrolment continues to decline.
"Those conversations haven't really started up in any formal sense, but I'd be remiss to not acknowledge that those are conversations that are looming if things don't change in a positive sense,” Caccamo said.
"Certainly there are conversations going on in our organization about programs that are offered in each of our composite schools and optimizing what each school is able to offer. [That way] kids have an opportunity to move between schools to access opportunities we provide.”
No layoffs at Catholic board
Lakehead Public Schools says it will not look at facility closures at this point
There will also be fewer students in the separate school system, but no layoffs will occur there.
Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board associate director of education Tom Mustapic said most of the decline of about 190 students will occur in the board’s two high schools.
“We've been projecting this decline at secondary for about five years, so we had managed to do it through attrition this year, largely at secondary,” he said.
“We had a large number of retirements that came forward."
Mustapic said the board actually had to hire some elementary teachers due to the implementation of full-day kindergarten in all its schools.