On April 21, STAR Catholic School Division announced the temporary layoffs of 147 staff members, effective for the months of May and June.
According to the news release, the cuts are due to the Government of Alberta’s decision to reduce the provincial education budget for the 2019-2020 school year in order to redirect funds towards fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
Because of privacy concerns, STAR Catholic says it will not be releasing how many staff are being laid off at St. Augustine School in Ponoka, or any of its other schools.
“We are not prepared to release those numbers,” said manager of communications Caitlin Kehoe in an email.
For STAR Catholic, the provincial budget changes translate to a reduction of $566,000 in instructional funding for the months of May and June, and nearly $150,000 in transportation funding for the months of April, May, and June. Employees impacted by the layoffs include educational assistants, FSLWs, librarians, custodians, and information and technology staff.
“It is with great difficulty that we announce this news,” said board chair Michelle Lamer in the news release.
“This decision is not one the Board of Trustees takes lightly, especially during what is already such a challenging time for our staff and families.
Impacted staff are encouraged to assess their eligibility and apply for government financial aid programs such as Employment Insurance and the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.
The Division will continue to fund health benefits for the permanent staff who have received notice of layoff.
Based in central Alberta, Saint Thomas Aquinas Roman (STAR) Catholic School Division represents 12 schools that serve the communities of Beaumont, Drayton Valley, Lacombe, Leduc, Ponoka, and Wetaskiwin.
April 2020 board meeting briefs
Google Classroom overview
The board heard a presentation from the division’s technology coach on Google Classroom, its functions, and how it’s being used by both students and teachers during this period of home learning.
Staff recognition evening
The board moved to cancel the staff recognition event scheduled for June 12. Staff celebrating milestones this year will receive a gift and will be recognized formally during next year’s event.
The board heard a presentation on the division’s new funding model, which was created based on Alberta Education’s new policy of funding based on enrollment projections.
Locally developed courses
The board approved a year-long extension of 15 locally developed courses to accommodate an extension of the same length granted by Alberta Education.
Potential fee changes
The board discussed a plan to meet virtually with school councils to discuss possible fee changes for the 2020-2021 school year. Feedback from school councils will be brought before the Board during their May meeting.
– With files from STAR Catholic School Division