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Calgary public teachers hit hard by layoffs

November 26, 2019 Cory Hare, ATA News Managing Editor

As 300 Calgary teachers are slated to lose their jobs, the government has ordered an independent audit and governance review of the Calgary Board of Education.

Facing a $32 million budget shortfall, the CBE informed its staff on Nov. 19 that 300 teachers on temporary contracts would see those contracts terminated as of Jan. 2.

“These teachers will be placed on the substitute teacher roster on January 3rd and a number of them may be considered for future temporary contracts,” said superintendent Christopher Usih in the statement.

 “We are in the midst of making several other decisions to cover our budget gap, and these will be communicated to staff and parents as soon as possible.”

On Nov. 20, Education Minister Adriana LaGrange issued a news release announcing the audit and governance review.

“I sympathize with the education professionals, students and parents affected. Unfortunately, this is another example of this board’s inability to appropriately manage its finances and prioritize student learning in its operations,” she said in the statement.

LaGrange said the CBE is not doing enough to minimize impacts on front-line staff and teachers.

“The Calgary Board of Education has a history of questionable, irresponsible decision making when it comes to its finances,” she said.

“There is no reason that a board with an operating budget of $1.2 billion servicing 130,000 students should be reducing teaching positions and harming our children’s education experience.”

Bob Cocking, president of Calgary Public Local No. 38, said the news has upset teachers throughout the division.

“The morale is definitely really low. Staff are really upset, including the staff that aren’t affected, because these are their team partners that they’ve been working with since the beginning of the year,” Cocking said.

“We’re getting inundated at our office with phone calls from them. They just don’t understand. They just started their careers in education … a lot of heartache out there.”

He said the school board had no choice but to resort to layoffs due to the provincial budget.

“This was totally avoidable and unnecessary,” Cocking said. “There was no reason for this to happen if the provincial government had kept their promises of funding the same or better — they said they were going to fund for growth. All those promises were broken.”

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