Open Letter to PETL Members re: Classroom Closures
News Category : PETL News
News Category : PETL News
September 7, 2016
As we are all now quite aware, the Board has mandated the closure of “empty” classrooms as of the start of this school year, and the closure of all Core French and vocal music classrooms by moving these programs to carts as of fall reorganization. These, and additional changes to childcare and international languages programs, are listed in a Board document posted in our Member Secure Area on June 29th.
It is important to know that the Local was not involved in the consultation process in late June around the Board’s “Space Audit” and the resulting proposals for closure. When we became aware of the audit and its potential for classroom closures, we clearly and strongly expressed to the Director’s office that the process was very poorly conceived, poorly implemented, and the results were not acceptable. Many other stakeholders shared the same concerns in late June with the Board.
The Local has expressed to both the Director’s Office and to the Chair and Trustees at the August 31st Board meeting how utterly disappointed we are with the process and in the final decisions to close valuable teaching and learning spaces. We continue to remind the Board of its commitment to excellence, to its French and arts programs, and how these closures are bound to have negative impacts on the Board’s reputation, a reputation it uses to attract both students and staff. Losing one’s dedicated teaching and learning space can demoralize teaching staff immediately affected by the closures. However, as many PETL colleagues recognize already, the closing of classrooms will negatively impact all members on staff in one way or another.
What is the Local doing?
- We continue to address our concerns to the Board wherever possible, to both the administrative side and to locally elected trustees. Our expressed concerns in June were partially responsible for a deferral of the closing of Core French/vocal music classroom from the end of June until fall reorganization.
- We will organize a meeting of interested colleagues to hear your concerns so we can take these in a focused manner to the Board.
- We are advocating for fair consideration for staff that are immediately impacted by the closures this fall to prepare for the transition. In response, the Board has committed to allowing impacted teachers the time to reorganize on the reorganization day, September 27.
- We will continue to advocate to the Board’s trustees and senior administration that these closures will have a detrimental effect on schools, students, and communities.
- We will be reaching out to local MPPs and our local communities to ensure that they are aware that these reductions in education funding are having negative impacts on our working conditions, which directly impact students’ learning conditions.
- We remind all In-School Staffing Advisory Committees that new language in our collective agreement gives scope for the committee to work towards shared solutions to staffing and organization issues within the school. No one teacher needs to be isolated in a situation that affects all teachers in a building.
- We are posting ETFO’s PRS Bulletin around Shared Workspaces in our Member Secure Area to assist staff and In-School Staffing Advisory Committees in creating respectful solutions to sharing workspaces at your location.
In closing, we want to recognize that this will be a difficult battle, one not likely resolved completely in the immediate future. We commit as a Local to finding as many avenues as possible to voice our members’ concerns and to work toward positive solutions in our Peel schools.