Schools still short more than 450 teachers
Despite a cash injection of $107 million in October 2011, Alberta’s schools are still experiencing a shortfall in restored teaching positions.
Teacher counts released December 20, 2011, verify predictions by the Alberta Teachers’ Association that 1,200 teaching positions would be lost as a result of a funding shortfall in Budget 2011. When September teacher counts are compared with the average count for 2010/11, a total of 1,167 full-time and 405 part-time teaching positions were lost across the province. On October 12, 2011, Redford and Lukaszuk announced that school boards would receive additional funding to restore those positions. By the end of November, less than 60 per cent of the positions lost had been restored.
“Unfortunately, we are still down 480 full-time teachers from where we were last year,” said ATA President Carol Henderson. “Student population increased by 1.1 per cent, yet we have fewer teachers to teach added students. Classroom conditions are deteriorating because some school boards are choosing not to focus spending on students.”
The loss of teachers this year compounds the effects of instable funding since 2010. “The government has now lived up to their funding commitments and yet again some school boards are squirrelling away funds instead of investing in classrooms,” said Henderson. She added, “$107 million in funding should have ensured smaller class sizes and enhanced student support. I’m disappointed to learn that it hasn’t.”
The release of teacher counts coincided with a government release that included board reporting on how funding was spent. Those reports can be found on the Alberta Education website.
Because school boards dealt with the initial funding shortfall in different ways, they were given flexibility by the government in how to allocate the new funds. Henderson was disappointed that many boards dealt with the initial shortfall by laying off teachers and did not necessarily use new funding to hire teachers. She says that Redford’s political mandate was to specifically reverse the actions that resulted from the funding shortfall in the 2011 budget.
A full board-by-board breakdown of teacher counts from 2008/09 through to November 2011 can be found on the Association website (www.teachers.ab.ca) under “School boards have yet to restore funding.” The teacher counts released in December do not account for all local contextual variables, including the possibility of decreased enrolment in some school jurisdictions.
A table showing full-time teacher counts since 2008/09 can be downloaded here.
A table showing part-time teacher counts since 2008/09 can be downloaded here.