Cutting in all the wrong places
|By Lisa Gervais - Editor | June 16, 2019|
About 60 people at the local school board received layoff notices this past Monday.
In Haliburton County, at least four people no longer have a job once the school year ends. They are educational assistants or EA’s.
Two work at Cardiff Elementary School. Two out of three. One can only imagine the impact that will have on a small, rural school. The other is part of the Behaviour Intervention Response Team. These folks come in when there’s a problem child. There are many. They help the teacher and other EAs to cope. One disruptive kid can impact an entire classroom so their presence is extremely important to any school. Especially when class sizes are poised to increase.
No doubt about it. They are the frontline workers that Premier Doug Ford and Member of Provincial Parliament Laurie Scott said would not lose their jobs.
Catherine Shedden, the P.R. person for the Trillium Lakelands District School Board said the board has had to make difficult decisions about the many programs and services valued by their students, community and staff. She said they’re working hard to preserve as much as possible in-school and classroom supports. Rest assured, she said, consideration for changes and reductions are made with the best interests of students first and foremost.
I had a look at the sunshine list for the past five years at TLDSB. In case you don’t know, the sunshine list is an accounting of every public sector employee in Ontario who makes more than $100,000-a-year.
Five years ago, in 2014, TLDSB had 94 people on the list, making just under a combined $11 million. Last year, the list had ballooned to 181 workers making just shy of $21 million.
Not to pick on director of education Larry Hope, but in 2014 he was paid $225K. Last year, he brought home $338K. From 2017- 2018, his salary jumped by about $36,000 -- about what one of those laid off employees would make in a year.
So, if, as Shedden (herself on the sunshine list) says, they are being battered by reduced funding from the Ministry of Education, which is having a severe impact on the budgeting process, why not look at some of those bloated managerial salaries?
We’re not just talking at head office in Lindsay, either. Heads of school departments, vice principals and principals are all feeling the sun’s rays. To our knowledge, there have been no managerial cuts at the school board. And, yet, we are hearing about continuous declining enrolment.
Premier Doug Ford is not wrong when he says spending is out of control in the province of Ontario. Where he is misguided is setting a target of a percentage cut in funding to organizations and trusting them to make good decisions about where those cuts should be.
Take the Southern Ontario Library Service, for example. It has merely passed on its cuts to member libraries. It looks better on the province’s books, but has a real impact on the ground.
It’s the same with the TLDSB cuts. Cutting EAs, secretaries and janitors will be felt at schools. It will put more stress on teachers, and remaining EA’s already worried about facing larger class sizes in September. Schools, which are not getting money for retrofits this summer either, will be dirtier and more run down.
It’s a bit hard to swallow when managerial salaries continue to climb at head office at the board, and in schools. It’s time to take a good, hard look at where the over-spending is happening in the province of Ontario and leave the front-line workers alone, as promised.
Lisa Gervais is the editor for The Highlander.