A teacher mourns her job loss

The sad impact of provincial budget cuts to education hits home with devastating impact for a grade 2/3 teacher in Vancouver.  It was the look on the prinicpal's face as he called her in for a "talk" that signaled the end of a job.  VO received this submission through a trusted source, who said the writer feared that if she used her name, she might never work again...

Dear Diary,

I should have seen it coming, I guess, but it didn't feel real until it was real. It was Thursday, a few weeks ago, when the principal called me into his office during my after-lunch prep period. He wasn't smiling, and he looked like he was really stressed out. He said he regretted to inform me that I had been laid off from my teaching position as of June 30th. I was handed the brown envelope.

I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach. All my hard work this year and last year – the the early-morning basketball practices, the hours spent prepping at my desk after school, the parent conferences that sometimes left me in tears at my desk at 6pm, ... and now this?

Ok, I get that there's still a chance I might have a job next year. They had to do a massive round of layoffs to ultimately reduce the number of positions by their (smaller) target number. And that target number is basically dictated by the funding shortfall. I get all that. But right now, I'm finding the uncertainty hard to handle.

In my case, they'll still need someone to teach my Grade 2/3 class - it's the only one at this school. The kids aren't going to disappear next year, and they can't be absorbed into other classes. So my position isn't going anywhere, but since I'm below the "magic seniority number", I have gotten a layoff notice. Probably someone whose position has been completely eliminated (like a resource teacher) could post into my position, and if he/she had the most qualifications and/or seniority of all the applicants, could get it.

Here's what they told us by way of explanation: the district has to lay off a lot of employees, and then re-shuffle and re-hire the top bunch of the laid-off employees into positions that still exist, in order to end up with their new (reduced) target number of staff. In order to make sure that the ones with least seniority are the ones ultimately cut when positions are eliminated, the personnel department of the district comes up with a "magic seniority number" – I heard it was around 3.5 years for us. The magic part is only if you're above that number – all those with seniority below that number are laid off and re-shuffled.

Starting this week, though, the district will be releasing job postings and re-hiring some of us that have been laid off. I'll have to wait until my "round" of postings comes up, and see what I can get.

But the bottom line is that me, and a lot of other people, right now are stressed about where we're going to be next year.

 I'm wondering if now's the time to move back to Ontario to be near my parents and siblings and nieces and nephews. I could get re-certified as a teacher there. Or maybe I could start up a clothing boutique in my hometown – or just work at Starbucks for a while.

Or should I stick it out here and hope for a job? But how can I afford to live in the lower mainland with such a shaky job situation for the next few years?

I really feel for my colleagues who have more layers of responsibility: kids, a mortgage. One friend of mine is wondering how she is going to arrange daycare next year for her preschooler when she doesn't know whether she'll be working and/or what income she can count on.

For a lot of us, all we can do is wait a while and see how things pan out.

Are you an educator who has been laid off? Email: [email protected]

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