NDTA outraged over recent School Board layoffs, which could affect as many as 60 teachers
The layoffs of 19 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions in the Kootenay Lake School District and the closures of the two District Resource Centres has local teachers feeling angry and upset, said Nelson District Teachers' Association union representative Tom Newell.
"Teachers are angry, upset and scared that programs are being dismantled," said Newell.
Although the number of layoffs is officially 19, this reduction could affect as many as 50 or 60 teachers he said.
There are 15 retirements anticipated, 10 or more full-time term contracts that will not be renewed and 26 fewer teachers assigned to schools for September 2012.
"This will have a dramatic impact on the schools," said Newell.
"Teachers of programs in music, art, counselling, library and learning assistance are all uncertain of the full scope and funding adds to that stress in the way it is being allocated to schools."
The layoffs may not be as bad as it appears according to district superintendent Jeff Jones.
"Overall we anticipate the loss of 19 FTE positions but the majority will be through attrition like retirements and resignations," said Jones.
The layoff notices went out on Friday, May 18 but Jones won't know what that will actually look like until mid-June and even into the summer because teachers who are leaving or going on leave must give 30 days notice.
There's also a lot of shuffling that goes on due to seniority so it's hard to say who will be leaving just yet, he said.
The two District Resource Centres in Creston and Nelson are also being closed to help account for the 1.5 per cent loss in funding to the district in the 2012/2013 budget.
"Teachers are very strongly in support of the District Resource Centres," said Newell.
"They are well used and highly utilized. It is such an efficient and well used process ... Teachers are really upset over the closure ... This is a huge blow to the resources available to teachers."
Newell doesn't see how teachers will be getting those resources once the centres are closed because there are also cuts to library services were the resources and instructional materials can now be housed.
The staff who work in the centres will be reassigned within the district due to seniority.
Jones is confident closing the centers will make the system even more efficient.
"By closing (the resource centers) we'll realign how teachers will access their resources throughout the district. We'll be weeding through and looking at all the materials being used and those that aren't being used," he said.
Last year there were no layoffs because the notices sent out were resinded or partially resinded due to how funding was allocated to the district, said Newell.
"(The layoffs this year) are dramatically worse and there are not any fewer students," said Newell.
He said the loss of that many teachers just isn't justified by the loss of about 90 students in a district of more than 4,700.
Newell blames the government for how they fund the district for this dramatic decrease in staff.
He said by giving little unreliable sums of money rather than one large sum to be divided according to the needs of the district is just not acceptable.
The preliminary school district budget, which included the layoffs, received second and third readings at the board's last meeting May 8. But not without discourse.
Trustee Bill Maslechko opposed the readings.
Next year won't be any better. The more than $53 million district budget will see another $750,000 shortfall as the district is weaned off of funding protection over the next three years.
"We are spending next year looking at efficiency rather than at classrooms because that is the last place we want to go," said Jones.