Greater Victoria School District planning teacher layoffs due to lack of international students

Greater Victoria School District planning teacher layoffs due to lack of international students
WatchCOVID-19 has forced many international students to pull the plug on their plans for education here in B.C. Now the loss of income has forced the Greater Victoria School District to start layoffs. Julian Kolsut has this story.

School District #61 is looking at laying off teachers following a lack of enrolment of international students due to COVID-19.

At a board meeting on April 27, staff revealed that they are seeing a 48 per cent loss in the international student enrollment program for 2020-2021.

As a result, they will lose $6.3 million, so 33 full-time teaching postilions are being cut.

“If the district had some other means of maintaining those positions then we would,” said SD61 (Greater Victoria School District) Associate Superintendent Colin Roberts.

“But there is no way that we could make up for that loss and income and loss of funding in that short of a time.”

The district says it was a difficult decision and that the reduction in student numbers will also result in too many teachers.

The district says it will try to meet its layoff goal through retirements, but some jobs may be lost.

“We are calling [staff who will have no work] excess to needs,” said Roberts.

“They haven’t been laid off at this point, and we will be working really hard to placing those teachers back into positions somewhere within the district before we reach June 30th.”

The decision has come as surprise to the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association.

“I was frankly shocked at the board meeting that they made that announcement,” said Winona Waldron, president of the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association (GVTA).

“I didn’t feel there was any reaction from senior admin or trustees. It puts another huge stress on people’s lives in an already stressful and uncertain situation.”

The move could mainly impact high school teachers.

The association says the layoffs show that the district shouldn’t rely on international students for funding.

“That system is not reliable, and we are seeing such a clear example of that now when we rely on international dollars to fund or partly fund our school district. And when we start talking about the fall, if that’s going to be shift work for kids, we don’t know what that’s going to look like, so that could require a great deal of teachers,” said Walron.

The GVTA is also urging the province to step in and provide additional help to schools. Some schools in the Lower Mainland are also hurting financially as international students pass on enrollment.

The district says the cuts won’t impact regular programs, and they hope by spring, the international students will return.

Julian KolsutJulian Kolsut

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