106 teachers 'declared surplus' by Waterloo region's public board, union says

The Waterloo Region District School Board says it has issued layoff notices to 106 teachers. (Carmen Groleau/CBC - image credit)
The Waterloo Region District School Board says it has issued layoff notices to 106 teachers. (Carmen Groleau/CBC - image credit)

The Waterloo Region District School Board has given surplus notices to 106 teachers.

The board says it's part of preliminary budgeting for this fall and the layoffs would take effect on Aug. 12.

The teachers were "declared surplus" on Thursday and Jeff Pelich, president of the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) Waterloo Region, said it's because the Ministry of Education has not yet released its education funding for the 2024-25 school year.

"ETFO members are facing a challenging time," Pelich said in an email to CBC News. "ETFO members, who are passionate about teaching, are understandably frustrated. While some will be recalled before the end of June, many are uncertain about their permanent positions in September."

Pelich said the surplus positions "are the direct result of an out-of-date funding formula" and the current Ontario government's "failure to keep funding in line with inflation and growth."

Board continues to evaluate staffing

Graham Shantz, associate director of the Waterloo Region District School Board, said in a statement emailed to CBC news that the board was given initial budget information on April 26 and it "has an obligation to staff schools in alignment with funding priorities of the ministry."

"We continue to follow the typical staffing and budgeting processes as we plan for the 2024-25 school year," Shantz said.

"We will continue to evaluate staffing requirements for the 2024-2025 school year," he said, adding staff could be recalled to positions they're qualified for under their union's collective agreement.

"They will also continue to have access to available job postings as the staffing process unfolds."

Shantz said the board knows "this is difficult news" for teachers and the school community "and we are committed to supporting their well-being throughout this process."

Pelich said while some of the teachers will return to the classroom in the fall, "it's naive to assume that it will be business as usual for our school board."

"We anticipate seeing fewer staff to support our most vulnerable learners, cuts to classroom supply budgets, and a vast reduction in central staff to implement ministry initiatives," Pelich said.

'Core Ed' funding model introduced

Isha Chaudhuri, a spokesperson for the minister of education, said the government "continues to invest the highest amount ever for public education in Ontario history" which has supported the hiring of 9,000 additional education staff since 2018.

"We have provided the Waterloo Region District School Board with $830 million for the upcoming 2024-25 school year, a $24 million increase from this year. We will continue to support Waterloo students by doubling funding to build schools and invest more in what matters most: reading, writing and math," Chaudhuri said in an emailed statement.

In a letter to directors of education on April 26, the ministry explained school boards can expect "core education funding" or "Core Ed," which is a restructured version of the former Grants for Student Needs.

"Core Ed is comprised of the former 18 grants and 77 allocations re-organized into six funding pillars and 28 allocations to streamline the funding formula, making it easier to understand and improve school board accountability," the letter says.

The total Core Ed budget was projected to be $28.6 billion, an increase of 2.7 per cent over the 2023-24 school year funding, the letter says.

In a media release on April 26, Minister of Education Stephen Lecce said the government would be "delivering a more transparent funding model while continuing to increase investment in publicly funded schools to the highest levels ever recorded."