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


Just Posted

A motorcycle with driver pulled over on the right side of the North Klondike Highway whose speed was locked in at 171 kilometres per hour. (Courtesy/Yukon RCMP)
Patrols of Yukon highways find poorly-secured loads, intoxicated drivers

The ongoing patrols which police call ‘Operation Cooridor’ is mainly focused on commercial vehicles.

Awaken Festival organizers Meredith Pritchard, Colin Wolf, Martin Nishikawa inside the Old Firehall in Whitehorse on May 11. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Performing arts fest plans to awaken artistic talent in Whitehorse and the rural North

‘A value of ours is to make theatre as accessible as possible.’

April Mikkelsen tosses a disc during a ladies only disc golf tournament at Solstice DiscGolfPark on May 8. John Tonin/Yukon News
Yukon sees its first-ever women’s disc golf tournament

The Professional Disc Golf Assocation had a global women’s event last weekend. In the Yukon, a women’s only tournament was held for the first time ever.

Dave Blottner, executive director at the Whitehorse Food Bank, said the food bank upped its services because of the pandemic. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Food Bank sees Yukoners’ generosity firsthand

“Businesses didn’t know if they could stay open but they were calling us to make sure we were able to stay open.”

Air North president Joe Sparling said the relaxing of self-isolation rules will be good for the business, but he still expects a slow summer. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News)
Air North president expects a slow summer

Air North president Joe Sparling suspects it will be a long time before things return to pre-pandemic times

A prescribed burn is seen from the lookout at Range Road and Whistle Bend Way in Whitehorse May 12. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Editorial: Are you ready for a forest fire?

Citizens for a Firesmart Whitehorse have listed some steps for Yukoners to boost safety and awareness

Caribou pass through the Dempster Highway area in their annual migration. A recent decision by the privacy commissioner has recommended the release of some caribou collar re-location data. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News)
Privacy commissioner recommends release of caribou location data

Department of Environment says consultation with its partners needed before it will consider release

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Family pleased youth will be able to get Pfizer vaccine

Angela Drainville, mother of two, is anxious for a rollout plan to come forward

Safe at home office in Whitehorse on May 10, 2021. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Federal government provides $1.6 million for Yukon anti-homelessness work

Projects including five mobile homes for small communities received funding.

Drilling at Northern Tiger’s 3Ace gold project in 2011. Randi Newton argues that mining in the territory can be reshaped. (Yukon government/file)
Editorial: There’s momentum for mining reform

CPAWS’ Randi Newton argues that the territory’s mining legislations need a substantial overhaul

At its May 10 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved the subdivision for the Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s business park planned in Marwell. (Submitted)
KDFN business park subdivision approved

Will mean more commercial industrial land available in Whitehorse

Main Street in Whitehorse on May 4. Whitehorse city council has passed the first two readings of a bylaw to allow pop-up patios in city parking spaces. Third reading will come forward later in May. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Whitehorse council pursuing restaurant patio possibilities

Council passes first two readings for new patio bylaw

Most Read