The layoff announcements made before summer break have turned out to be not as bad as originally thought.

The layoff announcements made before summer break have turned out to be not as bad as originally thought.

Nelson area teacher layoffs not as bad as originally thought

Since Kootenay Lake School District issued layoff notices before summer break, most of the affected teachers have been re-hired.

Since Kootenay Lake School District issued layoff notices to 36 teachers before summer break, most of the affected teachers have been re-hired.

Had all the original layoffs been carried out, 19 full-time equivalent teaching positions would have been lost in the district. Instead, the actual reduction was three FTE positions.

“We were able to recall almost all staff that were originally laid off, if they wished to be recalled,” explained Deanna Holitzki, director of human resources for the school district.

Holitzki said many of the teachers who are not back this September decided to retire or take leaves of absence. Some who did return came back with fewer hours.

“Some teachers were recalled partially rather than fully,” she said, noting the reductions are spread across the district and shouldn’t impact individual schools.

She also said student populations continued to decline, with about 90 fewer students enrolled in district schools this September — a number that matches last spring’s projections.

“The good news is all classes will be within the new legislated requirements,” Holitzki said.

Bill 22, the controversial Education Improvement Act adopted last March, sets a hard cap on the number of students that can be in Kindergarten to Grade 3 classes — 21 students for Kindergarten and 24 for Grades 1 to 3 — and requires Grade 4 to 12 classes not exceed 30 students, unless the class it within a prescribed category (for example, band or drama classes) or provisions are made for the teacher (including additional compensation).

Holitzki said requesting provisions won’t be necessary because no regular classes are above the 30 student limit.

Bill 22 halted last spring’s job action by BC teachers, legislating them back to work after three days on the picket line, and imposed limits on future contract bargaining.

In late-June, the teachers’ labour dispute ended with BC Teachers’ Federation members voting to accept a two-year contract, That contract will expire at the end of this school year.