CORNER BROOK The process of consolidating the province’s four English school boards into one advanced last Friday when layoff notices started going out to staff at the current four boards.
Darren Pike, CEO and director of education for the new English school board, said layoffs were issued to staff primarily in the areas of executive support, finance and other administrative level functions.
Pike said a total of 42 notices were issued to employees of the Western School District.
That is in addition to a number of senior management who were notified their positions would be eliminated during an earlier part of the process. In total, Pike said, 19 senior management positions were cut from the four districts.
Among those notified their jobs would be eliminated in the Western School District, Ross Elliott, the board’s director of education, will be retiring and Jeff Thompson, the assistant director of education (programs), has accepted a position as associate director of education in St. John’s.
Pike said once the consolidation process is complete management duties and administration functions like finance and executive support will be located at the main office in St. John’s. That office will be complemented by “strong regional offices,” in the previous districts.
From an administrative staffing perspective, Pike said, the western office will have 25 positions.
“You’ll still have busing administration and human resource staff,” he said. “And there’ll be an assistant director of programs leading that office.”
George Keeping, the Western District’s current assistant director of education (human resources), will assume that lead position.
Pike noted there was no staff reduction in the student support staff division of the board.
He also said staff at the regional office will continue to operate out of the main office on Wellington Street and the S.D. Cook Building on Fern Street. A satellite office in Lower Cove on the Northern Peninsula will close and the Stephenville office will see a reduction in staff.
Pike said all those impacted by the layoffs will have the opportunity to apply for the positions that will remain within the new board.
“If your position existed in the old district and will exist in the new district those people would have been notified their position is continuing. So you won’t see those positions posted,” he noted.
The positions that will be available will be posted internally first to give the employees a fair opportunity regardless if they came from the Eastern, Western, Central or the Labrador boards.
“The bargaining unit employees have two opportunities,” said Pike. “One to look at jobs (in) other places and, of course, then they can exercise their rights under the collective agreement if they have the ability to bump.”
He said non-bargaining unit employees would only have the one opportunity to look at potential opportunities as a whole.
Pike said the entire consolidation process is expected to be completed before the start of the school year.
“We’re still committed to having all this in place and confident that we’ll have all this in place for September.”
Pike said the new board recognizes this is a big event for a large number of employees across the province. With the layoff notices only issued Friday, he said “this is still really fresh and real for the employees affected.”
He said the staff at all the boards are committed to education and many have worked in their respective regions for years.