School district official clarifies facts on staffing numbers

Diane
Diane Crocker
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CORNER BROOK  While the Western School District welcomes comments from the public on matters in education, Ross Elliott said it’s important when discussing the issues in public that the facts are clear.

Elliott, the district’s director of education, made the comment in response to a press release issued by Liberal MHA Eddie Joyce earlier this week.

In the release, Joyce, who represents the Bay of Islands district, questioned an apparent increase in the number of administrative and support staff at the district despite a drop in student enrolment. He said since 2004 the student population has decreased by 23 per cent, and put the number of administrative and support staff at 770.

 “I think it’s very important to understand what is included in that number,” said Elliott, “In essence what Mr. Joyce is referring to is every non-teaching position in the district. His numbers are also including every casual employee in the district.”

That includes managers, secretaries, bus drivers, maintenence staff and other support workers like those who work with autistic children, conduct assessments on students with learning difficulties, provide support to children with psychological challenges and program support in reading and mathematics.

Elliott said the board has a total of 2,228 employees and about 20 of those are non-union employees who fall under the heading of management. Besides himself, they include assistant directors, middle management and supervisors of maintenence, busing and cleaning. These managers are spread throughout the district from southern Labrador, to the Northern Peninsula, to Deer Lake, Corner Brook, Stephenville and the south coast.

Elliott said it’s unfortunate, and he’s sure unintentional, that an impression may have been left that the board has an inordinate number of administrators and managers. But, he said, anyone looking at the numbers and responsibilities would see that in any organization.

He did agree with Joyce that the student population has been declining since 2004 but, while the number of students has dropped by 23 per cent, teacher allocation has only dropped by seven to eight per cent. Elliott said government should be commended for keeping teachers in the system.

Joyce is also a member of the House of Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee and raised the same issues this past September after the school board came under examination following the release of the Auditor General’s Report.

The board met with the committee following release of that report. At the time, Joyce said he requested flow charts outlining the positions which currently exist at the board.

Elliott said the board submitted significant documentation to the committee during that meeting, and the committee submitted a formal request for additional information in January.  He said the board is working to complete that request, which includes the flow chart.

dcrocker@thewesternstar.com

Twitter: WS_DianeCrocker

Organizations: Public Accounts Committee

Geographic location: Southern Labrador, Deer Lake, Corner Brook Stephenville

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  • John
    March 06, 2013 - 08:27

    If the resources were in place where they are needed as Mr. Elliot suggests, there would not be a problem. Additioanl staff for children with exceptional needs ie. autism is something noone can (or should) argue. However, creating board positions such as "School Development/Assessment, Technology, Numeracy Literacy Support, Itenerant for Inclusive Education, and Social Studies/Fine arts" are some of the board postions that do what to help the education of our children in the western school district?

  • Interesting
    March 05, 2013 - 08:42

    Shawn I do agree with you on this one. Not only do we need new staff in the WSD but in other government departments . When they get comfortable they spend the $ like its theirs and thinks they become unnoticed . Strange then they spend more money on invesgating the matters when they all should be down right fired !! but I guess they known they got there union protecting them once again ..... Two face crap... They talk and scam but nothing gets done .... sad ! that's why they don't want people like Eddie Joyce with a voice getting involved ... Keep going Eddie its these people that's taking away from our children... Cause iam sure there not winning a bottle of lambs for a spelling B !!!

  • Shawn
    March 04, 2013 - 06:53

    We are still waiting for Mr. Elliot's explanation as to why the Western School District was found to be purchasing liquor products with taxpayer funds(among other inconsistencies) as uncovered by the Auditor General. That has mysteriously been swept under the rug as he comes to the defense of his budget once again. I think it's time for some new blood in the Western School District administration...

  • shame on eddie joyce
    March 02, 2013 - 16:42

    one of our supposedly own; from west coast; running down and criticizing west coast education system; shame on eddie joyce; his party leader might be very well right; time to down size number MHAs and get ride of this one in bay of islands; complaining because special needs children and physically challenged children on west coast have too many support staff and people helping them; shame shame; where do eddie joyce come up with type of stuff; talking about turning on our own; and taking funding away from most challenged in society; time this fellow joyce started thinking before running down special needs support staff at school board level

    • Wheredoesthemoneygo
      March 03, 2013 - 16:51

      Well first off I like to say Mr Eddie does a wonderful job ! He is very involved with our children here on the west coast and does care for them . But he also wants to see our tax money spent in the right places .. If he doesnt question about it the public wouldnt know anything..... Keep up the good work Eddie !!!