Union concerned about ‘super-school board’ in N.L.

Teachers’ union president raises questions about combining four boards
|labour-reporter.com|Last Updated: 09/05/2013

Newfoundland and Labrador’s new English-language school board is being called a “super-school” board but teachers are concerned about its effects.

James Dinn, the new president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers’ Association (NLTA), said the consolidation came at a strange time.

When the province announced in its budget last spring that it would combine all four English school boards into one starting with the 2013-14 school year, it also announced it would eliminate 160 teaching positions.

“At the same time you cut 160 jobs from the system, I would assume that if you’re going to make a change as big as this you’re going to need the teachers there to help make this transition smooth,” Dinn said.

When the budget was announced, the Department of Education predicted no teacher job losses, reporting that about 550 teachers were eligible to retire that year.

“There will be no reduction in the allocation of regular classroom teachers assigned to deliver the required curriculum,” Education Minister Clyde Jackman said. “No reduction in direct services or supports for students with special needs, no changes in K-9 class size caps for the required curriculum, and that we are able to maintain a pupil-teacher ratio that is the envy of the country.”

Dinn said NLTA members are concerned the new ‘super-school board’ will negatively impact teachers’ input.

The NLTA is located in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and represents about 6,000 teachers across the province. Dinn said that members from smaller communities are especially concerned about the new school board’s effects.

“There is a concern from teachers about will their voice be heard,” he said. “There is a concern from teachers in smaller communities of whether or not the new superboard will be in touch with the concerns that they have in their small communities.”

Dinn said teachers want to help decide how and what policies from the former boards are put into practice in the new superboard.

“Part of my job is to be in touch with the teachers on this, to monitor the situation, to make sure that the teachers’ voices are heard on this matter,” Dinn said. He added that he will stay in constant contact with teachers and the school board throughout this school year.

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