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Teacher reassignments could impact music, health education at WCDSB schools

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Teacher reassignments will be put under the spotlight at the Waterloo Catholic District School Board (WCDSB) meeting Monday night.

Retired teacher and delegate Tim Moher will be asking the board to hold off on any more reassignments, until a plan can be put in place to ensure elementary students will still get a music education in line with the curriculum.

“Even if we come up with a five year plan to move forward so that we don’t lose what we had,” said Moher. “What we had was wonderful.”

Moher taught for 28 years. The last seven years were spent as a music educator in local Catholic elementary schools.

He said those specialized teachers are being pulled to cover regular classrooms because of a shortage overall of teachers.

Patrick Etmanski, President of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association’s Waterloo Region chapter, said they have about 39 teachers who are currently re-assigned to classrooms.

He said some of these happened in October and November, and more in January.

Etmanski said it’s also affecting health, art, and French teachers.

“Core French teachers are being pulled form their classrooms to cover in other classrooms when there’s somebody off sick,” he said. “So, same thing can be said about the FSL (French as a second language) program, where the kids are not getting the required number of hours of French. They absolutely aren’t.”

Etmanski said part of the problem is increasing enrolment at the Catholic board, with fewer teachers to cover the classes.

“When does the school board say we’re full? We don’t have enough teachers but the kids keep coming. It’s a real problem.”

He said there needs to be new conversations about how to recruit more potential teachers to the board.

“The minister of education always talks about funding, right?’ We funded this many more teachers.’ That’s great, but we don’t have people to actually fill the positions,” said Etmanski.

In a statement, the WCDSB said the reassignments include kindergarten to grade three health and art teachers.

“Coverage for these subjects is dependent on the specific school and class arrangement.”

Moher hopes by starting a conversation, it will draw more people into the teaching profession – and specifically, music.

“It’s the joy of learning and the motivation it provides,” he said.

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