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CBE cuts 300 temporary teachers; province said audit, governance review coming

A day after the Calgary Board of Education (CBE) said it would end the contracts of roughly 300 temporary teachers, the Alberta Education minister is calling for an independent audit of their books.

The recent provincial budget left the CBE with a $32 million shortfall, they said, and trustees were presented a Budget Assumptions Report, which outlined the strategies to get to balance.

This was the latest news to drop Tuesday.

“Today, approximately 300 teachers on temporary contracts will receive notice verbally that their contracts will end as of Jan. 2, 2020. They will receive official notice tomorrow. These teachers will be placed on the substitute teacher roster Jan. 3, and a number of them may be considered for future temporary contracts,” read a statement from CBE Chief Superintendent of Schools, Christopher Usih.  

“We are in the midst of making several other decisions to cover our budget gap, and these will be communicated to staff and parents as soon as possible.”

Audit and governance review on tap for CBE: Minister LaGrange

In a statement released Wednesday by Alberta education minster Adriana LaGrange, she said it was “difficult to hear” about the loss of the temporary teachers.

LaGrange went on to say that it’s another example of the board’s inability to manage finances and prioritize student learning.

“I have been extremely clear that I expect all boards to minimize impacts on front-line staff and teachers, and to prioritize the educational experience of our students. Alberta Education offered the Calgary Board of Education assistance in achieving this, assistance that the board refused,” the statement read.

“The Calgary Board of Education has a history of questionable, irresponsible decision-making when it comes to its finances. In 2010-11, the board trustees locked themselves into an expensive, 20-year lease in which they are paying more than it would cost them to purchase the building. In 2018, a provincial audit of the board found that it had made a $9.1-million accounting error, allocating office space costs as instructional costs.”

To that end, LaGrange said she would be ordering an independent financial audit, along with a governance review of the body.

“There is no reason that a board with an operating budget of $1.2 billion servicing 130,000 students should be reducing teaching positions and harming our children’s education experience,” the statement read.

Usih said the CBE will continue to make decisions to cover the budget shortfall.

“We will continue to support positive transitions and effective teaching and learning. Continuity of learning is important, and we are working to minimize disruption to the greatest extent possible,” he said.