Teacher staffing formula still angering parents

The territory's new teacher allocation formula was supposed to be fair and transparent. But the complicated formula is proving to be somewhat arbitrary and confusing - causing misunderstandings and angering some parents.

The territory’s new teacher allocation formula was supposed to be fair and transparent.

But the complicated formula is proving to be somewhat arbitrary and confusing – causing misunderstandings and angering some parents.

Whitehorse Elementary, which is losing one teacher under the new formula, has the most malcontents.

The school council and parents say that they are being penalized because of the school’s large size and their French immersion program.

At first it seemed like the school was losing out on teaching staff because it didn’t provide French as a second language.

But all schools get an extra 13 per cent worth of staff prep time, and French as a second language time is rolled into this number. Because Whitehorse Elementary didn’t have this component, it got extra prep time.

Simple, right?

Parents and council have had multiple meetings with the Department of Education and are still not happy with the formula.

“It didn’t appear to be a transparent and rational formula to me, even after the meeting,” said Whitehorse Elementary parent Elaine Carlyle, who last met with department officials on Tuesday night.

“If you have 96 primary grade students, you’ll get five teachers – but why is that reasonable? Why is that equitable?

“I would have thought that maybe they don’t explain it in the document itself, but surely they’d be able to explain it to me. But no, not at all. They just talk about how hard they worked on the formula.”

There are other numbers in the staffing formula that are difficult to explain as well.

When enrolment numbers are run through the formula, there are a little over 25 teachers remaining.

Of those, 5.86 teachers were held back as contingency, in case enrolment numbers change come September.

The remaining 19.5 were doled out to some schools and not others, more or less arbitrarily under the heading of “vulnerability, transition and stability.”

“It started off as an attempt to deal with the vulnerability of each school community,” said Dick Chambers, an Outside specialist who led the committee.

“But we don’t have good data on that, we don’t have reliable, consistent data to support it.”

The committee couldn’t come up with an answer, so Chambers, who had no vested interest in any school, came up with the numbers personally.

Three of these teachers are going to Elijah Smith. Whitehorse Elementary gets one.

Golden Horn, Grey Mountain, Hidden Valley and Holy Family schools get none at all.

“I said, here’s my best shot at it. If someone wants to argue about it, it’s a good thing to argue about, but I don’t know how we solve it,” said Chambers.

“And we’ll have to solve it next year.”

Carlyle argues that when it comes to vulnerability, Whitehorse Elementary should receive extra teachers.

The school is third from the bottom of the pile when it comes to standardized Grade 3 test scores, she said.

“We’ve got kids who are struggling and they’re taking a teacher away.”

And French immersion programs have additional needs that are not recognized.

The committee that drafted the formula didn’t include a representative from Whitehorse Elementary.

“There’s no recognition of any different resourcing required for French immersion programs, whatsoever,” said Carlyle.

There was a representative from FH Collins, which has a French immersion program.

“But it’s a high school versus an elementary school, so it’s a little bit different.”

The council wanted to participate and sent a response to its school superintendent, said Carlyle.

“I guess it didn’t get passed on.”

Parents have tried repeatedly to speak with Education Minister Patrick Rouble about the matter, but he has refused to respond.

The parents plan to personally deliver a group letter to the minister on Tuesday, June 29 at 12:30 p.m.

Contact Chris Oke at

chriso@yukon-news.com

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