Chairman, trustee at odds over teacher job losses

North Bay Nugget

Jay Aspin urges patience over potential loss of 121 Near North secondary school teaching positions

Near North District School Board chairman Jay Aspin and trustee Al Bottomley see Tuesday’s news of teacher redundancies differently.

While Bottomley advised his fellow trustees and upset parents during Tuesday’s board meeting to make noise over news that 121 out of 240 Near North secondary school teaching positions could be eliminated, Aspin, a former Conservative MP, said they should wait to get the full picture.

Elementary teachers also are being impacted with more than 80 positions being eliminated.

Aspin reminded the board and the more than 25 parents and staff who attended the 90-minute board meeting that there’s an annual ritual of declaring teaching positions redundant.

He was quickly corrected by those in the crowd.

“It’s never been this bad. This will affect school sports and extracurriculars,” said Shawn Moreton. “How is this board going to respond? You, as a board, should be screaming because half of the picture is bulls..t.

Moreton then asked trustees if Near North is a partisan board, and then reminded them of who got them into those seats in the first place.

Aspin told the crowd the board is waiting for the province to release the Grants for Student Needs, which are essential to determining staffing levels.

“I’m not going to be an alarmist. We have to wait for the rest of the story,” he said. “This government assured us that no teachers would lose their jobs, and we will hold them accountable if that’s not the case.”

Bottomley told the board and parents that they have the right to appeal to their MPP, premier and opposition parties over the decision to increase class sizes and mandatory e-learning courses for high school students.

“Written letters seem to make the most impact. But you’re certainly allowed to go out and scream. Make some noise.”

Jim Sinclair raised concern that these lost jobs will have “serious economic repercussions on the North Bay community.”

The board agreed to send Education Minister Lisa Thompson a letter expressing its disappointment with the proposed changes that form part of Ontario’s new vision of ‘Education that Works for You.’

The letter states the short- and long-term impact of the proposed changes “will be extremely detrimental to the quality of education we are able to offer our students.”

Key points addressed by the letter include class sizes, reduction in staffing and funding, mandatory e-learning and vulnerable students.

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