Public school teacher unions in the Windsor area have been told there will be cuts over the next 4 years because of larger class sizes. June 18, 2019. (Photo by Paul Pedro)

Pending Windsor area public school cuts hurt students, say teacher unions

Public school teacher unions in the Windsor area have been told there will be cuts over the next four years because of larger class sizes.

Ontario’s Minister of Education, Lisa Thompson, announced on March 15, 2019 that secondary school class size averages would increase from 22 to 28 over the next four years. As a result, Union leaders said 31 elementary teachers, at least 10 high school teachers and other secondary positions, and 15 educational support staff will be cut next year.

The Greater Essex County District School Board has said that no layoffs are expected and job reductions will be done through attrition such as retirements and turnover such as teachers and staff moving to other boards.

Adelina Cecchin, president of the Greater Essex Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, said students will suffer because of the cuts that will likely be permanent.

“I think that’s one of the concerns as well, is that these cuts are going to be permanent and to try and reverse that is nearly impossible,” Checcin said.

Erin Roy, president of the Greater Essex Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, said teachers are very nervous just before the summer break.

“I know that our enrolment number is up but we’ll have less people overall next year. I don’t know if it’s going to necessarily mean that somebody will be laid off but we’ll have less people with a greater number of kids,” said Roy.

Kristen Garrett-Spanswick, vice-president of the Greater Essex Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, said the cuts will mean less safe interventions for students who need special education support.

“Our members are stretched as it is and certainly less of them in any buildings will mean a higher risk for students and others in the building,” Garrett-Spanswick added.

Dozens of union members attended a rally against the education cuts late Tuesday afternoon at the board’s headquarters just before trustees were expected to approve them. The board is trying to balance the 2020 budget.

The number of cuts cited by the unions have not been not confirmed by the Windsor area school board. Spokesperson Scott Scantlebury said specific numbers won’t be known until later this summer when staffing and enrolment are complete.