Red Deer Public School District

Red Deer Public lays off support staff on June 1

Saturday's announcement that the provincial government was reducing funds to school divisions across the province will result in the layoff of educational assistants effective June 1. There will be no more assignments for substitute teachers. Contracted services by our bussing contractor are suspended for the remainder of the school year.

Funding from the province to Red Deer Public Schools has been reduced by $1.45 million. In total, the government is expected to reduce funding to Alberta school jurisdictions by a total of $128 million, which will be directed to support the province’s COVID-19 pandemic response.

“When classes were cancelled two weeks ago, the focus of all our staff shifted to continuity of learning and supporting our 11,000 students having to learn from home,” said Board Chair Nicole Buchanan. 

“Red Deer Public understands that our province and nation are significantly impacted by the many challenges we are facing in 2020. We are keenly aware of the significant challenges that students, the families we serve and our community are facing,” said Buchanan.

With online learning for 11,000 students off to a successful start last week the division wanted to ensure all students were actively engaged in learning. “We received really great feedback after a week of learning from home. When we established our plans for continuity of learning, our educational assistants and support staff played an important role in the delivery,” said Superintendent Stu Henry. “Our top priority is to continue to provide great teaching and learning to our students while they are home.”

Given the funding reduction, the District looked at all aspects of its budget to maximize student learning. “We wanted to support continuity of learning as much as possible. Through overall cost savings through reduced operations within our schools and the division, we are now able to defer the layoffs to educational assistants until June 1 rather than May 1 as originally planned,” said Henry. “This will allow us to use educational assistants to maintain our plans to support learning from home, particularly in these early stages. We can also provide targeted support to students with special needs, including those PUF students in pre kindergarten.”

While the initial announcement identified where reductions should take place, decisions have been left to school boards to determine where the reductions are best made. “We are still meeting our funding reductions announced by the government. Yes, these funding reductions are tough, but by respecting the local autonomy of school boards to make the best decisions, the government knows that we are in a far better place to make decisions that maximize student learning and have the least impact on students as well as staff,” said Chair Buchanan.

Today the District informed staff of the following layoffs:

  • 258 Educational Assistants - effective June 1
  • Substitute Teachers - no more assignments effective March 31
  • Contracted services by our bussing contractor are suspended for the remainder of the school year
  • At this point, we are not anticipating nor planning further reductions to staffing.

“We are incredibly proud of how staff in all of our schools have responded to these challenging times, said Chair Buchanan. “‘We're in this together’ is the rallying cry for this pandemic crisis. Our support staff have played an important role throughout the school year and had really stepped up as we've responded to this unprecedented pandemic. While they still face layoffs June 1, fortunately we have been able to minimize the impact of this funding reduction to students and staff. Yes, we will get through this together!”