More than 30 teaching positions cut for coming school year

Dave Stewart
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Education Minister Alan McIsaac. FILE PHOTO

Education minister says it’s part of agreement reached last year with P.E.I. Teachers’ Federation

The provincial government is eliminating 32 teaching positions for the 2014-15 school year.

That brings to 103 the number of positions that have been trimmed over the past three years.

Education Minister Alan McIsaac said it is part of an agreement reached between his government and the P.E.I. Teachers Federation last year during contract talks. McIsaac is quick to note that no one is losing a job.

“It was agreed that we would take 70 out over two years (but) only through attrition,’’ McIsaac told The Guardian following question period at the P.E.I. legislature. “As the retirements come we don’t fill those positions.’’

English Language School Board superintendent Cynthia Fleet says that with fewer teachers there will be more multi-grade classrooms where students in one grade end up in the same class with students from a grade above or below them.

Opposition leader Steven Myers says government is failing Island children.

“Teachers have a really hard job. I feel bad for them because there’s pressure on their shoulders every time there are cuts. Now they’re talking about combining classrooms,’’ Myers said. “By heaping more pressure on our teachers (and) what we’re expecting of them, to do a better job, is simply unrealistic.’’

McIsaac acknowledges it may lead to more multi-grade classrooms.

“We have those now,’’ he said. “It may lead to a few more of those but we have had significant student decline in enrolment the last few years.’’

During question period on Tuesday, McIsaac said $206 million of his $230 million budget goes to the school board.

“We allocate the numbers that we feel, the dollars that we feel are needed from the numbers.’’

For a kindergarten class, the teacher-student ratio is one teaching position for 15 students; for primary grades 1-3 it’s one position for 22; elementary grades 4-6 is one position for 25 students; intermediate 7-9 it’s one position to 28; and senior classes, grades 10-12, one position per 30.

McIsaac said it’s extremely challenging to maintain class sizes from one end of the province to the other considering enrolment in rural schools is much different than those in urban zones. For example, there are five classes in Grades 1-6 with 30 students in each class but there are 63 classes with 16 or fewer students in them.

Since 2001-02 the province has lost (in Grades 1-6) 5,060 students. McIsaac said in that same time period they’ve put 96 teachers into the system.

“Over that period, we’ll have taken out 106 teachers, so in total, 5,060 students, 10 fewer teachers.’’

Some will note that the Opposition is quick to attack government for spending money so why is it also attacking government for cutting back?

“Never once have I said do it at the expense of students,’’ Myers said. “Never once have I said do it at the expense of education on Prince Edward Island.’’

Myers said wasteful spending can be found on hotels and in highways projects, but not in education.

dstewart@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/DveStewart

Organizations: P.E.I. Teachers Federation, Language School Board

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island

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Recent comments

  • Diane Taylor-Stewart
    May 08, 2014 - 20:49

    There is nothing more important than good Teachers being able to provide quality education for our Island students. My father served on unit 4 school board for 35 years. He drove an old truck and didn't require a big salary and fancy dinners. The children of Unit 4 always came first. It,s called priorities. Our children need all the help they can get and it all starts with a quality educations. Surely cut backs could be found elsewhere. Diane Taylor-stewart

  • Concerned Parent and Islander.
    May 08, 2014 - 12:17

    Alan McIsaac has to go!!! And we have way to many M.L.A. I would hate to see my child waste 7 years of University that he has worked so hard to become a great teacher!! Don't forget Mr McIsaac you got where you are by being taught by these teachers!!

  • joe
    May 08, 2014 - 11:50

    As a parent sitting at a home and school meeting and hearing the challenges our teachers are having, and will have are terrible. Our education is going down the tubes along with our healthcare and this government is fully responsible. It's time you take a serious look at our once thriving province and do the right thing for the people not just a bunch of MLA's and friends getting rich

  • J
    May 08, 2014 - 10:17

    Just a government employee, the educators won't feel the wrath of cuts, but students will. The minister should spend some time in a few classrooms, and I don't mean a two minute photo opt, to see what student mental, emotional and physical issues teachers have to deal with on a daily basis while trying to teach, perhaps staffing cuts wouldn't take place so readily. Not replacing a position left by someone retiring is the same as cutting a position, students will suffer as well as higher rate of teacher burn-out.

  • Just a government employee
    May 08, 2014 - 09:31

    For the past 4 years, this government has been eliminating RN positions across the Island. It is now educations turn to feel the wrath of the cuts.

  • wilf
    May 08, 2014 - 08:30

    back to the one room school house where all grades were together, are we?

  • Wrong place
    May 08, 2014 - 07:46

    There are so many other places to cut than education. So many departments out there mismanaged. Employees that don't care, just putting in their time, with no real purpose any more. So what does this gov't do? They cut education because of teacher / student ratio off kilter??? Teachers have a purpose.

  • Renita
    May 08, 2014 - 07:05

    Scrimp and cut on education and see what happens at the other end, with crime, unemployment and addictions! How about keeping teachers, LOWERING the ratios, and seeing if we can't change the terrible trends we've seen lately!!

  • So misleading..
    May 08, 2014 - 06:15

    So why is my son in a kindergarten class of 18, my daughter in a grade 1 class of 24? Misleading the public is what these liars do best. Cut MLAs and redundant government workers, not teachers!

  • voter
    May 08, 2014 - 05:31

    it is obvious that LIBERALS HATE teachers -- and it sounds like a lot of posters here share that same feeling -- just a continuation of the callbeck-mckinley 7.5'ers

  • Upset parent
    May 08, 2014 - 04:33

    The need to re-examin the class sizes. My daughter has had more than the acceptable class size in grade K and 1. And I can see how it has effected the kids. Now in grade 2 their class size is at the maximum acceptable class size. So many kids at different levels of learning. And then 4 or 5 kids with learning disabilities. I can see the teacher struggling to do her job. And they get very little help. And again I can see how it is effecting my child's education. You need to keep some of these teachers and make class sizes smaller for the sake of our children's needs and futures. Our kids are testing at the bottom of the scale nation wide. Why is that? There must be a reason. I love PEI but in many of the Provinces we are considered a joke. It breaks my heart. Government give your head a shake. Start going what is right for our children and our Island. STOP making so many ill-fated decisions. No wonder people have no faith in our government.

  • jason
    May 08, 2014 - 03:58

    100,00 for prince Charles? make any sense .....you will have to pay alot more than that in employment insurance benefits to all those teachers and student teachers that our wonderful politicians said we needed in the first place...i think we should all protest ...the raises,the new cars,trips,and special benefits our island politicians give them selves and see what we save....Stop taking from the little man and start sacrificing a little from yourselves...and lets see how quick a decision is made on that idea......

  • Keep going please
    May 07, 2014 - 23:37

    Please keep going !!! Because I can't wait until election time... Another nail in the liberal coffin!!!! Keep hitting everybody accept mla's and liberal supporters and you WILL be CRUSHED in the next election.. You liberals are killing the pei economy by raising taxes and fees so much people will stop spending and be forced to leave pei.. cutting and slashing here and there and you can't even see it WAKE THE F UP!!!!!!! Ghiz couldn't run a good game of marbles let alone the province

  • Keep it up
    May 07, 2014 - 22:20

    80% of government costs are salaries of employees. PEI has too many public sector workers - bureaucrats, teachers, health employees, politicians. You could cut every single part of the public sector by 25% and services would only suffer a bit but we'd be running a surplus every year that could go toward paying down the debt.

    • Oh sure
      May 08, 2014 - 06:59

      That's exactly what we need! Fewer teachers and health care workers! That will make everything better! Are you well?!

    • keep it up
      May 09, 2014 - 11:13

      I am quite well. My wallet is not, due to the incompetence and over-spending and high taxation policies of the current PEI government and past ones. There are a dozen schools which should be closed due to low attendance and those teachers laid off. There are probably a dozen government offices that should be closed and those civil servants laid off. Likewise there are a lot of health care facilities which could be either closed and/or privatized to reduce costs and health workers laid off. PEI does not need to be operating public nursing homes - sell them just like they are selling the golf courses. In fact, nursing homes can make money so investors might actually buy them compared to golf courses.

  • Alice
    May 07, 2014 - 22:03

    His teacher-student ratio is incorrect. I've been in many classes where there are 18-20 kindergarten students and anywhere from 20 -27 students in a grade 1 - 3 class. I thought the early years were suppose to be the most important. I guess they forgot what they preach.

    • Really?
      May 08, 2014 - 12:20

      I suggest you do some research into the job requirements for a Kindagarten vs Grade 1 teacher, and the pay scale. This is why there are more Kindagarten teachers than elementary. I teach Gr. 6 and 7, and all 5 of my classes have 30+ students.

  • darlene hustler
    May 07, 2014 - 21:17

    no problem...let's just cut out school all together....no wonder our children are on the lower scale of the charts compared to the national average....spend the money on ROYALTY...concerts...etc...

  • don
    May 07, 2014 - 21:03

    can we please cut 30 mla jobs and put them out fishing ?

    • Hmmm
      May 08, 2014 - 09:15

      You disdain for MLA's is very telling. Me thinks you are a MLA wannabe/ but could never make the grade or get elected non??