The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) announced that, due to the expiration of Special COVID-19 funding from the province, it will eliminate hundreds of jobs. One week after a report that showed that students are struggling to access any kind of mental health supports, the TDSB budget shows that it will have 485 fewer school-based staff.
The staff reductions include 45 elementary teachers, 20 secondary teachers, 35 special education staff, 21 elementary clerical staff, 7.5 secondary clerical staff, 40 school-based safety monitors, 78.5 caretakers, and 200 lunchroom supervisors. These job losses will be devastating and the loss of these staff positions will undeniably hurt students.
COVID’s lingering impact on our schools
The Ministry of Education gave TDSB more than $30 million in funding through the COVID-19 Learning Recovery Fund in each of the past two school years, but that funding is set to expire in August. Parents, students and staff in schools can surely tell you that the effects of COVID-19, on the students and their families, have not been overcome. The effects of job loss, eviction, school closures, and other disruption to learning are still being felt in the school halls. Students and staff are experiencing mental health struggles and to face these challenges we need more staff positions not fewer.
Issues such as violence in schools and gaps in student achievement can be overcome, but it will require staff to address them. Anyone in schools can speak to the dire shortage of supply teachers, EAs and ECEs that is causing further disruptions in student learning and placing greater burdens on other staff. After the incredible fight by OSBCU education workers in 2022, we need to protect their jobs and fight to expand funding for education.
According to the Education Act school boards are required to adopt balanced budgets, ensuring that estimated expenses do not exceed estimated revenues. We can likely expect more announcements like these from other school boards as they put together their budgets for next year.
Funding for schools not tax cuts for the rich
The cuts are a choice by the government. There is more than enough money to invest in expanding staffing to ensure decent working and learning conditions. The government is choosing to underfund our education system while at the same time handing out generous tax credits to factory owners.
Members of education workers unions and teachers’ unions need to take this opportunity to unite and fight for every job. Workers have the right to demand to keep working for Ontario students and students deserve properly staffed schools.
Join Spring’s Labour Caucus on Sunday, March 26 at 5pm EDT to strategize about how workers can fight back.
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