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Alberni School Closure: ADTU-CUPE mull job losses

Alberni District Teachers Union and CUPE Local 727 will suffer job loss as a result of a pending school closure in the Alberni Valley.

But how many teachers will lose their jobs won’t be known until a final decision is made, ADTU president Ken Zydyk said. “A school closure will lead to a reduced number of teachers that are needed,” he said.

The ADTU represents 250 teachers, 230 of them full-time equivalents in the Alberni Valley portion of School District 70.

Factors such as how many students are going to be displaced and how many in each grade, and parents choices about where they’ll send their children to school will help define teacher losses, Zydyk said.

Another factor that hasn’t been discussed as of yet that will be a major factor in student movement, and by extension teachers is catchment boundaries.

According to School District 70, a school catchment area is the geographic area from which students are eligible to attend a local school. “If there is a school closure then the school district will have to adjust the catchment area boundaries ,” Zydyk said. “There are so many unknowns and uncertainties right now though that I can’t say for certain how everything will fit together afterward.”

Not all teachers will be absorbed into the new order after the fallout, he said. “I don’t think they can all be absorbed, not the way the numbers are showing.”

The ADTU hasn’t taken a position with respect to the school closure, Zydyk said. “We feel this is something for the community to decide so we haven’t given any direction,” he said.

“Our members are resigned to the fact that a school will close. There isn’t a good decision to be made here.”

CUPE staff will likely be more affected by a school closure than teachers, spokesperson Nancy Bell said. “I’m hesitant to say that, but in the end teachers are more likely to follow a student population,” Bell said.

CUPE Local 727 represents approximately 230 staff who work across School District 70. Bell couldn’t give any hard numbers but did give some background.

Elementary schools usually have one custodian, several education assistants and sometimes a secretary.

“You can’t use another custodian at a school just because the student population increases,” Bell said. “And more students won’t mean more secretaries.

“The district is trying to work with us, the ADTU and the community but this is still so frustrating,” Bell said. “The district’s hands are tied and this is out of their hands.”

With a closure looming it’s the future everyone should have their eye on, Bell said. Student enrolment levels have been dropping but are projected to stabilize and start increasing again.

“Closing a school now will create another problem. There won’t be a school when it’s needed,” Bell said. “I don’t think we’re going to get another $50 million to build a new school.”

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

Twitter.com/AlberniNews

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