I thought I would try and bring everyone up to date on the staffing / enrollment situation in the district.
As you may have heard the school district enrollment has declined from the projections of last spring. The decline was initially thought to be over 100 FTE., however at the School Board meeting on Monday evening the decline was reported to be 76 FTE.
The decline was not necessarily spread evenly throughout the district. In fact two schools (NISS and FRES) have seen a growth in their projected enrollments.
School District funding is based on enrollment. As the enrollment goes down so does the funding. The per capita amount is about $9000. District administration believed they would need to make some cuts by the end of the first week.
The changes are as follows: two teachers have been transferred according to a transfer clause in our Collective Agreement about schools with declining enrollment. There will be a partial lay off at the end of December in one school, a leave is not being replaced and a small posting has been reduced. The result will be a reduction of 1.55 FTE for the year.
As a result of the cuts EVES, Sunset, and A.J. Elliott each dropped a class and class size has increased in each school – particularly in primary.
This cut is happening at a time when the district has been quite vocal about wanting to have all students reading at grade level by grade 5. It is a very clear priority of the district. (Although, to be honest, I am not familiar with a time when having students reading at grade level has not been a priority of teachers) So, the first response by the district , to an admittedly difficult situation, is to cut teaching staff and effectively increase primary class size.
It is understandable the district has concerns about their budget. However a budget is not just about money. It is about priorities and how to spend that money. These cuts are very much counterintuitive to the stated goals of the district.
We have become a very small district. There are just over 1300 students and about 97 FTE teachers. When addressing budgetary concerns the district would do well to look at all structures within SD 85.