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HomeNewsTrillium Lakelands District School Board Closes Yearley Outdoor Education Centre

Trillium Lakelands District School Board Closes Yearley Outdoor Education Centre

KAWARTHA LAKES-Trillium Lakelands District School Board (TLDSB)has closed Yearley Outdoor Education Centre in Huntsville.

Yearley Outdoor Centre has been offering outdoor education experiences to grade 6 students and other user groups within the Trillium Lakelands District School Board for more than 40 years.

“To close such a valuable learning centre and nature program is so deeply wrong on so many levels. We have seen from past experience, what happens when we let amazing facilities, like Yearley, go. The Frost Centre in Dorset is a good example, never to return or be re-opened again, with all those great connections to nature lost to our students well into the future.” said one resident on the Yearley Facebook page.
CUPE says the move is a big loss for students and means layoffs for staff.
“This is a huge loss for all students of the TLDSB.  TLDSB students have gone to Yearley for over 40 years.” William Campbell President CUPE 997 told Kawartha 411 News.
“We can’t let this happen to the Yearley Outdoor Centre. The future health and well-being of our students should take priority right now rather than cutting such a valuable program and facility!” continued the resident on Facebook.
It doesn’t appear Yearley will be saved. The website has been scrubbed from the internet as of this morning.

 

The news comes on the heels of more than 70 staff receiving layoff notices within TLDSB.

The layoffs are in all areas of the board and in almost every school according to CUPE.  In the City of Kawartha Lakes the following schools are affected:

Alexandra PS, Bobcaygeon PS, Central Senior School, Dunsford Dist ES, Dr George Hall PS, Fenelon Falls SS, Fenelon Township PS, IE Weldon SS, Jack Callaghan PS, King Albert, LCVI, Lady Mackenzie, Langton PS, Parkview PS, Rolling Hills PS and Ridgewood PS.

Primarily the layoffs affect the Educational Assistants and the Custodial staff.

Both of these groups of employees are front-line supports for students. Custodial staff are the folks that keep the schools clean and safe for all students, staff and community members.” says Campbell.

According to Campbell, the Custodial staff at TLDSB have been reduced through successive layoffs in 2015, 2016, 2019 and now again in 2022.

“There is no flexibility in custodial staffing that would allow this employee group to maintain the cleaning standards going into the new school year.   As a result, if the layoffs stand,  the schools will not be as clean and possibly not as safe going forward.  As it stands the Custodial staff have worked significant amounts of overtime to keep the schools as clean as they can.  If schools required Custodians to work overtime to keep them clean and safe in the past, how are schools going to look with reduced staffing going forward?”

The average annual wage of a full-time Custodian is $47,000 per year.

Educational Assistants support the highest needs learners in the system and Campbell says they keep classrooms safe as they attempt to control negative and disruptive behaviour in the classrooms.

“When 1 student is disruptive in class no one in the class can learn.  EAs also work with students in small groups or 1 to 1 to support them in reaching their learning potential.”

The average annual wage of an Educational Assistant with TLDSB is $35,000 and this salary represents the 3rd lowest paid Educational Assistants in Ontario according to the Union.

We have reached out to the board for comment but have not had a response.

Campbell says the board has indicated that the funding isn’t there to continue these positions.

“That said, it quite simply is not the case.” Campbell says.

He says there are two funds that the Government and CUPE negotiated as part of the 2019-2022 Collective Agreement that were used to hire additional CUPE support staff.  The Supports For Students Fund (SSF) and the Education Workers Protection Fund (EWPF).

A memo from the Ministry of Education on February 17, 2022 notes that the SSF has been extended for an additional school year and that there has been a new fund created called the COVID-19 Learning Recovery Fund.  This new fund must be used for certain priorities such as hiring additional Educational Assistants and other Education Workers, supports for Special Education and maintaining enhanced cleaning standards.  The union says this fund can also be used to support staff previously funded through the EWPF.

 

 

 

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Pamela Vanmeer
Pamela Vanmeerhttps://www.kawartha411.ca/
Pamela VanMeer is a two time winner of the prestigious Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) Award. Her investigative reports on abuse in Long Term Care Homes garnered international attention for the issue and won the Ron Laidlaw Award. She is a former reporter and anchor at CHEX News, now Global Peterborough and helped launch the New CHEX Daily, a daily half hour talk show. While at CHCH News in Hamilton she covered some of the biggest news stories of the day.

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