Tuesday , 2 March 2021

NLPS limits layoffs after Alberta Education pulls funding to COVID-19 response

Northern Lights Public Schools said they’ve avoided mass layoffs after their conversations with Alberta Education.

Northern Lights Public Schools explained how the province’s decision to move funding originally going to school boards to the COVID-19 response affects their staff on Friday.

They were able to offset a large portion of the reduction in funding, they said, by reducing other areas affected by having no students at schools.

“We are pleased to share that at yesterday’s [Thursday’s] board meeting, the Northern Lights Public Schools Board of Trustees approved a plan put forward by administration that will address the reduction in funding from the government while minimizing the impact on staffing and the services we provide to our students,” they said in a letter to parents.

“By avoiding mass layoffs, we are also able to minimize the effect on our local economy, which has already been severely impacted by the economic downturn, and provide stability to members of our Northern Lights family.”

NLPS said they honoured contracts to bus drivers as well, but with decreased pay.

“As a result of a reduction in funding for transportation, we had to make adjustments to what we are paying our bus contractors, but we were able to do this while adhering to the terms of our contracts.

“While we are able to address our shortfall without making a major reduction in staffing, we will be offering our educational assistants, librarians and division bus drivers the option of taking a voluntary layoff.

“We want to make it clear that this is completely voluntary and they are encouraged to make the best decision to meet the needs of their families at this time.”

However, staff in preschool and out of school care programs were released since their fees are paid by parents, NLPS said.

“These staff play an important role in our system and provide valuable services for our families. It is regrettable that we have had to take this step, and we are grateful for the hard work and skills that these staff brought to our team.

“We fully expect to continue our preschool and out of school care programs once classes resume, and we invite all staff released this week to rejoin us at that point.

“We are confident that we have developed a plan that will allow us to meet the needs of our students in the weeks to come and help us prepare for the time when we are able to resume classes again.”

This week is Spring Break for NLPS students and staff.

Full letter here.

About Michael Menzies

Menzies is the editor-at-large for Connected Media Inc. Born and raised in Vermilion, he started in May 2018 during his NAIT Radio and Television practicum and reports on local politics, sports, and community issues. He became the Bonnyville Pontiacs play-by-play voice during the 2019-20 season. He also comments on provincial and national issues. Menzies hosts Connected! Evening Monday-Thursday at 5 o’clock. He also likes to buy books and read some of them.