TDSB includes 250 job losses in 2015-’16 budget

Aiming to reduce its deficit, the TDSB is hoping for staff attrition

East York’s senior public school trustee says it’s too soon to quantify the impact that the new school board budget will have locally.

But there are few rays of light for anyone in the budget that the Toronto District School Board passed at its March meeting. Among its provisions is the loss of about 250 jobs — hopefully through attrition rather than layoffs.

The cuts were made to address a projected $16.5-million deficit in the TDSB’s $3-billion operating budget for 2015-2016. TDSB chairman Shaun Chen said that the board hopes to avoid letting go of anyone by simply closing jobs that are left by people who resign or retire.

John Smith, president of the Elementary Teachers of Toronto, called the cuts a “mistake” in a statement on behalf of ETT, criticizing the budget for “diminished support for students in need.”

Speaking about how the cuts would affect East York, Ward 16/Beaches-East York trustee Sheila Cary-Meagher told the Observer that it is “far too early” to predict how the austerity will trickle down to neighbourhood schools.

Cary-Meagher added that there could also be further cuts in the coming weeks when the Ministry of Education releases next year’s “Grants for Student Needs,” which provide funding for Ontario school boards.

In a fact sheet released shortly before the board’s budget meeting, the TDSB revealed that the cuts include 98 elementary teaching positions as well as 116.5 high school positions.

The statement also announced cuts to English as a Second Language programs and special education funding. A total of 36.5 special education teaching positions were eliminated, while ESL programs lost 93 positions.

One of the TDSB’s three Newcomer Reception Centres will also close as a result of the cuts. The centres offer English language and mathematics evaluations to students who are new to Canada, and help them pick a suitable high school credit program.

The board also discussed partnering with the Toronto Parking Authority to create a revenue-generating program whereby downtown schools would rent out parking lots after school hours.

The TDSB currently oversees 595 schools in Toronto and approximately 246,000 students. The board estimates that there will be 2,000 fewer students enrolled in 2015-’16.