Teacher cuts coming

York Catholic School District will have 10 fewer teachers, thanks to the provincial budget announced in April.
“We’re certainly going to feel the pinch with this budget next year,” said superintendent Don Dolan. “It’s going to have a direct impact on classroom and teachers we hire.”
Teachers on temporary contract may not be renewed for the 2014-04 school year. New teachers may not be hired to meet the growing student population, he said.
It means class sizes would increase in September by one student per class if the number of staff and students were equally distributed, he said.
Currently, there are 320 teachers in the district and about 5,250 students.
School jurisdictions say they are hurting in the areas of operations and maintenance, transportation and Grade 10 funding.
Grade 10 funding became an issue last spring when Alberta Learning switched from per credit funding to per pupil funding. It was to be in place for one year.
Dolan said the cap on Grade 10 funding has not been lifted. Meanwhile, students continue to take more classes than what per pupil funding covers.
The division had a $250,000 deficit for operations and maintenance last year due mostly to natural gas and electricity costs.
Funding to that department did not increase.
Gasoline costs for transportation have also jumped and the three per cent funding increase handed out isn’t enough, he said.
Overall, it means a 3.2 per cent deficit in funding for York Catholic because there has only been a two per cent increase in the instructional budget and a 5.4 per cent increase in costs.
One budget bright spot was more funding for special needs education, Dolan said.
Division administration will talk to its principals to see if they can find ways to minimize the budget’s impact.
“Our board is being really fiscally responsible. There is legislation that says boards have to submit balanced budgets,” Dolan said.
The Catholic board will send a letter to Alberta Learning outlining its funding concerns.
York Public School District is still working through its 2014-04 budgeting process. But in April the district did expect it would also have to put off hiring teachers. Eight positions were frozen this school year.
York public board chair Cindy Jefferies said the loss of funding for Grade 10 students should be easier for the public and government to understand compared to other confusing funding formulas that make up Alberta Learning’s funding system.
“It’s a tangible thing. We can talk about how it impacts a high school student,” Jefferies said.
Educators argue per pupil funding reduces the amount of money for Grade 10 students at an age when they should be encouraged to take a variety of courses to find out where their interests lie.
The public district expects a $431,000 loss in Grade 10 funding for 2014-04.
“It’s certainly a concern and a decrease in funding.”