Teacher allotments tweaked

Jack Hulland Elementary School will have one fewer teacher this September. The Porter Creek school is one of the losers of the Education Department's annual shuffle of teacher allotments.

Jack Hulland Elementary School will have one fewer teacher this September.

The Porter Creek school is one of the losers of the Education Department’s annual shuffle of teacher allotments.

It’s the third consecutive year the school has seen a staffing cut, said Paul Nordahl, chair of the school council.

He worries the drop to 25 teachers will result in “more and more split grades and less flexibility for programming for students who need extra assistance.”

“When you start to whittle down the numbers, you can’t offer that same level of service,” he said.

But department officials say they’re simply trying to keep up with shifting demographics.

In the past decade, Jack Hulland has seen its enrolment dwindle by nearly half, to its present 278 students from a peak of 510.

This September, enrolment is projected to fall to 261.

If the department’s projections for Jack Hulland prove correct, the school will actually end up with a slightly better student-to-teacher ratio than it had this year. It will retain fewer than 11 students for every teacher, which is on par with the territory’s average.

But Nordahl has his doubts about the department’s forecast.

He’s watched duplexes and townhouses spring up in the neighbourhood in the past year, and “inevitably, some of those are going to be families with school-aged children.”

The total number of teachers employed across the Yukon in September will remain unchanged this year, at 476 staff.

In all, nine schools are expected to see minor staff reductions. Three will see increases.

Among the winners will be Whitehorse Elementary, a French immersion school that has bucked the trend of declining enrolment across the territory and seen its student ranks swell sixfold since 2003, when it had just 66 students, to 410 students today.

Enrolment is expected to further grow to 436 in September.

To match this growth, the school’s staff will increase by one, to 33 teachers.

“I’d have been surprised if we didn’t get it. We have enough new students to have a whole new class,” said council chair Erik Blake.

Staff reductions won’t result in any full-time teachers being forced to change schools, said Val Stehelin, the department’s director of human resources.

“All the adjustments are in schools where we’re expecting retirements or resignations. If there’s going to be a decrease, it will be in the positions that are currently vacant,” she said.

Contrary to speculation in past months, the department won’t be pulling extra teachers from the classroom to work on interdepartmental tasks, such as curriculum development, said Stehelin.

Three teaching positions have yet to be allocated to schools. One full-time job and a half-time position are contingencies, to be put into schools that have higher than anticipated enrolment.

The remaining jobs are for teachers to focus on behaviour issues and aboriginal integration into schools, said Stehelin.

Yukon’s teaching ranks have grown considerably in the past decade, at a time when the number of enrolled children has shrunk. As a result, the ratio of students to teachers has shrunk from greater than 13:1 to less than 11:1.

As a result, Yukon, on average, now has one of the best teacher-student ratios in the country. The national average is about 16 students for every teacher.

But considerable discrepancies exist between Yukon schools.

Rural schools tend to have a higher ratio of teachers to students,

because these schools have smaller student populations and it simply isn’t practical to cram students from a wide range of ages into a single classroom.

Considerable staffing gaps also exist between Whitehorse’s elementary schools.

In the most extreme case, Selkirk Elementary had a ratio of staff to students nearly twice as large as Whitehorse Elementary this year. It had only five students for every teacher.

But the biggest differences appear to be shaved off by the department’s latest juggling act, with Selkirk losing a teacher and Whitehorse Elementary receiving one, among other changes.

Contact John Thompson at

johnt@yukon-news.com.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ken Anderson’s Sun and Moon model sculpture sits in the snow as he carves away at the real life sculpture behind Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre for the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous festival in Whitehorse on Feb. 21, 2018. Yukon Rendezvous weekend kicks off today with a series of outdoor, virtual and staged events. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Rendezvous snowpad, live music and fireworks this weekend

A round-up of events taking place for the 2021 Rendezvous weekend

Whitehorse musher Hans Gatt crosses the 2021 Yukon Journey finish line in first place at approximately 10:35 a.m. on Feb. 26. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Whitehorse musher Hans Gatt crosses the 2021 Yukon Journey finish line in first place at approximately 10:35 a.m. on Feb. 26. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Hans Gatt wins inaugural 2021 Yukon Journey

The Yukon Journey, a 255-mile race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse, kicked off on Feb. 24

In a Feb. 17 statement, the City of Whitehorse announced it had adopted the what3words location technology used for emergency response. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Three words could make all the difference in an emergency

City of Whitehorse announced it had adopted the what3words location technology

Jesse Whelen, Blood Ties Four Directions harm reduction councillor, demonstrates how the organization tests for fentanyl in drugs in Whitehorse on May 12, 2020. The Yukon Coroner’s Service has confirmed three drug overdose deaths and one probable overdose death since mid-January. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three overdose deaths caused by “varying levels of cocaine and fentanyl,” coroner says

Heather Jones says overdoses continue to take lives at an “alarming rate”

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

The Yukon government and the Yukon First Nations Chamber of Commerce have signed a letter of understanding under the territory’s new procurement policy. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
First Nation business registry planned under new procurement system

Letter of understanding signals plans to develop registry, boost procurement opportunities

US Consul General Brent Hardt during a wreath-laying ceremony at Peace Arch State Park in September 2020. Hardt said the two federal governments have been working closely on the issue of appropriate border measures during the pandemic. (John Kageorge photo)
New U.S. consul general says countries working closely on COVID-19 border

“I mean, the goal, obviously, is for both countries to get ahead of this pandemic.”

Most Read