York teachers facing layoffs

By 
  • June 6, 2019

Teacher layoffs will be a reality for some York Catholic teachers as the school board struggles with an anticipated $7.7 million budget shortfall for the 2019-20 school year.

York Catholic District School Board employees were informed of the shortfall the board faces in a May 27 letter from Ab Falconi, the board’s director of education.

“In recent years, we have been able to avoid redundancy through attrition (retirements). This year, due to changes in Ministry (of Education) funding, attrition is no longer sufficient to absorb the loss in teaching positions related to decline in enrolment,” wrote Falconi.

Many boards have speculated teacher positions are threatened as the Conservative government wrestles with a $15-billion deficit. 

It has been more than 25 years since the York board found itself in a situation when teachers faced layoffs. Falconi said a number of factors have combined to dig the $7.7-million hole in the operating budget, funding cuts and declining enrolment being key.

Falconi did not say how many teachers will be affected. Union officials, however, said 80 teachers are facing the axe. That has led to some late nights for Filomena Ferraro, president of the York bargaining unit of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association.

“It’s been a tough time,” she said, as teachers are seeking more information about their future.

Falconi said he hopes some factors will line up to reduce the impact, such as four-year leaves (teachers who work four years at reduced pay and then take the fifth year off) or increased enrolment.

“If we have more enrolment then we’ll be able to call some folks back,” he said. 

The increase in class sizes at the secondary level — the province has said it will boost the average high school class size to 28 from 22 over the next four years — is not driving the layoffs, said Falconi. Rather, declining enrolment is a factor.

Ferraro has a hard time believing the funding cuts are not the main reason behind job losses.

“Without the class size and program changes introduced by the government, the ability of the board to deal with the impact of the decline in enrolment would be significantly improved,” said Ferraro.

Education ministry spokeswoman Stephanie Rae said class size will not cause one job loss because of a $1.6-billion fund to protect those jobs and transitional support due to declining enrolment. The York board, she said, is projected to receive $4.4 million through this allocation for 2019-20.

“While there are transition supports for boards experiencing declining enrolment, the province expects boards to adjust their cost structures to changes in enrolment,” said Rae.

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