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This article was published 12/8/2017 (311 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Ten teaching positions have been added to Brandon School Division’s staffing complement, in preparation for the 2017-18 school year.
The division is projecting an enrolment increase of nearly two per cent (157 students) for a total of 8,888 students.
"By the end of June, we were pretty close to those numbers, so it’s probably reasonable to expect that we’ll exceed that anticipated growth by the time we do our official calculations at the end of September," Brandon School Division chair Kevan Sumner said.
Fortunately Brandon is not anticipating any layoffs, unlike other divisions in the province. As reported in the Winnipeg Free Press earlier this week, the Manitoba Teachers’ Society warned its 15,000 members that the Progressive Conservative government policies have led to teacher layoffs and cut salaries.
The union has told teachers that Bill 28’s wage controls will cost each of them $5,591 between next summer and 2022.
Education Minister Ian Wishart provided an emailed statement on the issue to The Brandon Sun.
"We have increased support for K-12 schools with a $13.1-million boost in funding to sustain the province-wide budget of over $1.3 billion per year, and have responded to calls from local school boards for flexibility on class sizes," Wishart said.
"While it’s disappointing to see this type of NDP style fearmongering coming from union bosses, we know it does not represent the hardworking teachers in Manitoba who are dedicated to helping their students achieve a brighter future."
While pleased to see BSD has no teacher layoffs, the Brandon Teachers’ Association pointed out the division originally called for more teachers to be hired.
During budget deliberations last February, the division had budgeted for 14 positions to be added.
"So from our perspective, what that means is … no layoffs, and we’re very pleased. But at the same time, there are fewer teachers teaching kids in town, and that is a detriment for our kids," said BTA president Peter Buehler.
"It’s because of the rising enrolment that we didn’t experience layoffs. There wouldn’t have been a projection for additional teachers if enrolment itself wasn’t rising, and that’s what that’s based on."
According to Sumner, roughly one-third of Brandon’s schools are in a "tough position" when it comes to capacity.
The division is functionally at capacity at Alexander, Betty Gibson, Earl Oxford, Green Acres, Harrison, J.R. Reid, Riverheights, St. Augustine’s, Spring Valley and Valleyview.
These schools have 100 per cent room utilization, which as Sumner explained, means that every single room is in use at all times during the regular school day.
He notes capacities could change if they are given portable classrooms by the province, but all of their requests last year were denied.
"If we get a school through the province’s P3 schools initiative, it won’t be until we have serious capacity issues at most of our schools," Sumner said.
"The current projections assume no change to catchment areas, so other schools will be impacted if we change catchments to take pressure off of the busier schools."
Preparations are underway as BTA’s four-year contract comes to an end. Bargaining is scheduled for 2018.
"This is the longest stretch we’ve ever gone without returning to the table … although it’s lovely not to be faced with that task and I’m sure the employer would say so, too, it also means more work to be ready for," Buehler said.
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