LINDSEY ENNS/BRANDON SUN
Brandon Teachers’ Association president Alison Johnston, left, makes a presentation to Brandon School Division trustees regarding the 2014-15 budget during their regular board meeting Monday night.
Brandon Teachers’ Association president Alison Johnston has asked school board trustees to reconsider tentatively cutting 11 full-time teaching positions.
Johnston told Brandon School Division trustees during their regular board meeting Monday "it was disheartening" that the option to maintain September 2013 staff levels "received little consideration or debate" during all-day 2014-15 budget deliberations last Tuesday.
"Any cuts that are going to take place in a growing school division will have an impact on someone, and it will be personal," Johnston said. "When you’re a growing school division … and with 11 less staff, there’s going to be an impact.
"I question that decision."
During her presentation to board members, trustee Glen Kruck admitted he was reconsidering his support for the budget trustees have tentatively approved.
Kruck said "there was no support" from the majority of his fellow trustees when it came to refraining from cutting teaching positions as part of possible budget reductions.
"The option I had was either to stay solid in my decision or risk having 14 positions cut because there were trustees who wanted to cut more," Kruck said.
When Kruck asked Johnston for advice in finding ways of "compromising" with the rest of the board, Johnston recommended that Kruck continue being "persistent."
Johnston later told the Sun she found Kruck’s admission "encouraging," but pointed out there’s still eight more trustees to convince.
"I’m hoping that he’ll have the opportunity to discuss it with the rest of his colleagues and perhaps he can be as equally as persuasive with them as it appears I have with him," she said. "It’s the ability to provide quality services, I think, that needs to be the key."
Trustee Kevan Sumner pointed out that trustees tried to agree on a "sustainable increase for taxpayers."
Trustee Marty Snelling said over the years the board has approved tax increases in order to provide a wide range of supports.
"I don’t know where the balance is totally … it’s a very tough position when you’re trying to balance what the general community is saying and what you presented us with tonight," Snelling told Johnston following her presentation to the board.
Trustees agreed to cut 11 teaching positions and raise taxes by 2.9 per cent after tentatively approving the 2014-15 budget during last week’s deliberation meeting.
After nearly eight hours of discussion last Tuesday, trustees made a collective decision to cut 11 full-time teaching positions — one from a high school level speciality program, one from divisional learning support services and the other nine from yet to be determined grade levels.
School board chair Mark Sefton has said that trustees have yet to decide which grades will see staff cuts, but they likely won’t affect kindergarten to Grade 3 teachers.
The elimination of the teaching positions, which would come into effect in September, resulted in $880,000 in reductions to the division’s nearly $90-million budget.
On March 3 at 7 p.m., the public is invited to make presentations regarding the budget during a special board meeting. Johnston said she will once again speak on behalf of the BTA with a focus on pupil-to-teacher ratios and their effect on the classroom.
Trustees will finalize the budget on March 10 prior to submitting it before the March 15 provincial deadline.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition February 25, 2014