Why teacher job losses?

I haven’t been paying attention, but a friend of mine called me today and we spoke a bit about the upcoming layoffs at the Prince Rupert School District.

Then I saw this article:

What’s the cause of the budget shortfall?

Yeah it’s pretty confusing. I can’t make heads or tails of it either. I tried going through the financials ( Financials and Budget | School District 52 ) but there isn’t really enough detail and explanations to figure out what is going on, unless perhaps you actually heard the meeting which would presumably better explain the power point slides. And the news articles seem to be unclear (and I can’t verify from the Financials) whether the concern is under-performance in the 2020/2021 budget or the 2021/2022 budget.

I think its referring to the projected deficit for next year’s budget (2021/2022). What I can’t understand is how they’re in this position if the projected funding for 2021/2022 is up to 1900 from 1831 students, or $23.5M to $24.2M (3%).

The “itinerant teachers” where apparently in the 2020/21 budget , but aren’t able to fit in the 2021/2022 budget (from the March 29 meeting slides). If the projected funding is way up, why don’t they fit?

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Historically speaking the Prince Rupert school district has a very high number of administration officials. For example, the high school has two vice principals, and a principal.

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Is it all about projections being way off? I have no idea, which is why I asked :slight_smile:

But in my time in Prince Rupert, my memory is that SD52 would always be overly conservative in projections. This seems to be the complete opposite.

It’s a simple spring ritual: year after year for the last decade the Board has cried deficit and attempted to lay off teachers.

‘No one’s disputing itinerant teachers are important to the district. But, the fact remains the former superintendent hired more than they should have,” Tina Last SD 52 trustee said. (Quoted from a Northern View story.)

Ms. Last’s comment leaves me with questions: the prime one being - are there no checks and balances? Shouldn’t someone have been able to see or foresee the potential fiscal problem and warn the Board? Human Resouces? The Secretary-Treasurer? I even believe the School District has policy to protect whistle blowers…
It’s easy to place blame on a former employee…but the employee left almost a year ago.

There are too many questions unanswered at this point in time: hopefully there will be more satisfying answers in the future given the situation this year and the disruption to education and students.

(Tune in same time next year when the Board attempts to solve its deficit problems by laying off teachers?)

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You only get to do that once :slight_smile:

The whole “write two letters” story.

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Today’s North Coast Review (May 21) offers an excellent summation of questions that have arisen around the School District under the title: “Beyond the budget, a range of School District issues may require more than an internal report”.
If you haven’t listened to the linked CBC interview with the former Human Resources person, please do - it’s an excellent bit of reporting.
Hopefully, for the sake of all members of the educational community, the issues that are arising are dealt with openly, honestly and transparently…and that the community as a whole supports the need for some type of inquiry.


Has the School District responded to that? Is it normal for a current employee (in charge of HR?) to file a FOIP request about hiring? Or is there more to this?

I guess this is one side of things – what’s the other side?

Is this the guy they’re blaming for the shortfall?

Interesting. At the end of the interview CBC radio said that they asked the current superintendent to comment and they received no reply. Secret hiring not authorized by the board of trustees.

Another excellent article on the ‘problems’ in the Board Office and info ‘hidden’ from the trustees - both prior to and after the departure of the previous Superintendent.
The May 27th Northern View contains a fuller interview with the former Human Resources person at SD 52: along with some eye popping salary figures, a suggestion that at least some information should have made it to the Board, and hints that the problems may reach beyond just the previous Superintendent. (Who is the current secretary-treasurer?).
By the way, unless things have changed, isn’t last year’s Director of Instruction this year’s Superintendent? Is that person the in a neutral enough position to lead the review?
Maybe an external third party review by a neutral investigator would a more credible choice?
Great reporting Northern Review - hopefully you’ll continue to follow the story.

Here’s the Northern View Story.

Worth noting that the title of the article is Former SD 52 HR Director Cut out of “secret hirings” but the URL suggests it was previously "Former Human Resources Director of SD 52 Spills The Tea."


This part is very telling:

Having no success with the superintendent he said he then had to decide an appropriate course of action regarding his concerns. He approached an individual board member, whom he did not name, to seek consult on how to proceed.

Having been in similar roles, but not in SD52, this is how it was explained to me previously: The Board has one employee, and that is the Superintendent. The Board acts as a body, not as individuals.

Sometimes, Board members will try and speak to the Superintendent’s employees directly, but that shouldn’t happen. Not officially, anyway. The Board as a whole, of course, can act in an official capacity, but not individuals.

As well, employees going “around” their boss to talk to their boss’s bosses isn’t a good idea.

Is that what’s happened here? Is this why this guy is a “former” employee?

Welcome to HTMF.

An interesting take on the functioning of the Board.

To my knowledge there is no information available on the reason the former Human Resources person left the district: so I won’t comment on that.

In your understanding of how a board should ‘act as a body’ are you also suggesting that Ms. Last’s interview, which might be seen as addressing both employees and the public was not appropriate? (I do not believe Ms Last was speaking on behalf of the Board when she made comments about a former employee).

I believe most organizations of size have procedures for addressing employee concerns: is it possible he was actually following the appropriate steps? Rather than ‘going’ around his boss to ‘talk to his boss’ bosses’ was he just trying to fulfill his duties?

Again, welcome to HTMF.

BC School Trustees Association:

“A school trustee is a member of a corporate board of education under the School Act. A trustee’s power lies in membership on the corporate board. Only the board has the authority to make decisions or to take action; individual trustees in and of themselves do not have such authority.”

“However, it is vital to the success of the board for each member trustee to look beyond personal issues in order to make decisions that benefit the school district as a whole.”

I’m sure you’re allowed to speak as an individual, but it’s not appropriate to wear your “Trustee Hat” while doing so.

I have no idea about the situation in Prince Rupert, but as is the tradition on HTMF, we always make comments on topics we don’t know anything about :slight_smile: hahah!

Anyway, I was, in a past life, in a situation where I interacted with a school board quite a bit, as an employee. No, not SD52 :slight_smile:

One of the things that was drilled in to me over and over again was “don’t talk to trustees as individuals… talk to the board as a whole.”

On more than one occasion I received communication from an individual trustee. They were asking very specific questions about some operational matter. My response was, of course, to reply and answer her questions, but to CC: the entire board, and the superintendent as well. I never “officially” communicated with trustees, as trustees, individually.

I’d suggest that if someone wants to approach a board for advice or guidance, the proper procedure would be to address the entire board, not an individual.

Of course, this is all hypothetical, as there’s very little concrete info, on either side.

On the other hand, an employee responsible for HR, having to use FOIP requests to view a file just sounds ludicrous. There’s a lot more going on here that we know about.

Haha! As a former employee of SD 52 I’m in the same boat as you; I don’t know what’s going on. The current hiring practices will do nothing to heal the rift between the teachers and management. I have a lot of empathy for my former colleagues; I can’t imagine the stress that they’re living with.

Two interesting media report this week on the continuing saga of School District 52.

  1. North Coast Review; 2) The Northern View (online)

The Northern View reports that the chair of the Board of Trustees James Horne stepped down from that position but will remain as a Trustee. Apparently a rather rancorous meeting followed. There is no indication that Mr. Horne was appropriately thanked for his service in that position.

There are indications long standing rumors of highly dysfunctional and negative factional interactions amongst trustees may have bubbled into the public realm. During the meeting a new chairperson as well as a new vice chairperson were elected.

There seems to have been an argument by members of one long entrenched faction that selecting Board chair and vice- chair persons should be based on experience. An interesting argument in that one of the School District’s own arguments in labor issues, I believe, has been, that merit should override seniority (experience) in promotions. It would seem that the Board of Trustees selected the new board chair based on merit rather than experience.

This annoying brouhaha apparently caused a member of the public to make rather acerbic (but possibly accurate) comments on the functioning of the board.

Interestingly, the North Coast Review suggests that the results of the July meeting provide the general public no further clarity to questions raised over previous months….and appears to do little in preparing for education this fall. I totally agree. It is, for the time being, nothing more than a distraction from the issues that need to be addressed in both the Board and in upper management.

I believe, and I could be wrong, that this level dysfunction has existed over an extended time and has served to exacerbate many of the issues the School District is facing at this point in time. I also believe that trying to direct public attention away from the major issues the board should be facing serves no useful purpose.

A small group of entrenched Trustees are only part of the issue.

Entrenched upper management appears I believe to have a level of culpability that needs to be examined.

As for suggesting provincial intervention: this Board was democratically elected and unless there are issues of malfeasance or extremes of misbehavior involved or, the Board itself requests intervention, I doubt the Province will become involved.

Meanwhile, education and students in this district could continue to be disadvantaged.