School superintendent suspended: Liberals

One of Yukon's top bosses of school operations abruptly left his job last week and has retained a lawyer. David Sloan is one of Yukon's three superintendents. He's served the Education Department for more than three decades.

One of Yukon’s top bosses of school operations abruptly left his job last week and has retained a lawyer.

David Sloan is one of Yukon’s three superintendents. He’s served the Education Department for more than three decades.

He’s on medical leave, according to Jim Tredger, president of the Yukon Teachers’ Association.

But Sloan told the Yukon News he was seeing a lawyer, not a doctor.

And the lawyer has told him to refrain from publicly commenting on his case.

Sloan’s departure—which is being called a suspension by the Liberal Party, and not being commented on by the Education Department because it’s a personnel matter—comes at a time when principals and parents are feuding with bureaucrats over how many teachers each school will receive next autumn.

There will be no change in the total number of teachers hired in 2009-10, says Education Minister Patrick Rouble.

But that doesn’t mean some schools with declining enrolment won’t see a reduction in staff.

It also doesn’t exclude the possibility of more teachers being pulled out of the classroom and into department jobs designing curricula.

The Liberals’ Eric Fairclough listed seven schools he says will face teacher cuts on Tuesday.

They are Golden Horn Elementary School, Selkirk Elementary School, Takhini Elementary School, Jack Hulland Elementary School, Grey Mountain School, Robert Service School and Eliza Van Bibber School.

No staffing numbers have been finalized yet, said James McCullough, a spokesman for the Education Department.

Principals are still able to make the case that they require more staff. More firm staffing numbers should be pinned down by mid-May.

Staff numbers are only finalized in September, when the actual number of attending students is confirmed.

McCullough wouldn’t say if the same number of teachers would remain teaching, rather than perform other tasks for the department.

It’s too early to say, he said.

The release of early staffing numbers came unusually late this year, said Tredger. This is hard on teachers with temporary contracts who are waiting to find out if their jobs will be extended, he said.

“We may lose some very good people because they can’t wait any longer, and there’s a job opening up somewhere else.”

But the Education Department doesn’t have a good idea how many teachers are leaving their jobs until this time of year, said McCullough. Permanent teachers have until May 1 to give notice they won’t be working in September.

There’s another reason why it’s a tumultuous time for schools: at least nine principals are retiring.

As teachers are moved to fill these positions, new holes will be created that will need to be filled.

Money for Yukon’s public schools grew by two per cent in the territory’s 2009-10 budget, to $85.6 million.

Yukon has the best teacher-student ratio in the country, with one teacher for about every 10.5 students. By comparison, the national average is 15.5 students per teacher.

The number of teachers in the Yukon has grown for the past 11 years as enrolment has declined.

In 1997, Yukon had 6,120 students and 456 teachers. Today it has 4,950 students and 475 teachers.

That’s 1,170 fewer students now than it had in 1997, and 19 more teachers.

Contact John Thompson at johnt@yukon-news.com.

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