As soon as Denise Morgan discovered that she had received a long-term occasional (LTO) teaching assignment in June, she immediately started working.
She developed a strategic plan and allocated over $250 from her personal funds towards purchasing classroom supplies and materials.
Morgan, a pseudonym CBC is using to protect her identity due to her concerns about her relationship with her employer, spent a month in an Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) classroom.
She became acquainted with her students. They became acquainted with her. And then it disappeared.
As a result of the elementary classrooms being consolidated, she discovered that a teacher with a permanent contract would be assuming her class.
Morgan expressed being “completely shattered.”
She mentioned that despite the effort I invested, I am unable to witness the positive outcomes of my hard work, and the same goes for my students.
She stated that although it is not officially a permanent job, she would be unable to provide a high-quality program to her students without a year-long preparation.
“If I am given a year to prepare, I should have the capability to finish the entire duration.”
Morgan, like others, was given a mere five-day notice regarding the change. This occurred when the board decided to replace LTO teachers due to lower than expected elementary enrollment numbers for the current academic year.
Teachers who were temporarily filling long-term occasional (LTO) positions for the year have unexpectedly been displaced to accommodate contract teachers who were reassigned, according to Pat Dixon, President of the Ottawa Carleton Elementary Occasional Teachers’ Association.
She stated that it has had a significant effect on her members, as those who believed they had employment for an entire year now find themselves without any job, except for the occasional work they can find each day.
The board is seeking alternative employment for LTOs who have been displaced.
Dixon states that the decrease in income for teachers who were displaced is substantial.
She mentioned that Long-Term Occasional teachers (LTOs) receive the same payment as permanent contract teachers. However, daily occasional teachers, also referred to as supply or substitute teachers, earn significantly less, even if they work every school day throughout the year.
Darcy Knoll, a spokesperson from OCDSB, verified that the rearrangement of classrooms resulted in the displacement of several elementary LTOs. However, the exact number was not disclosed.
He observed that, according to the collective agreement, it is possible to cancel those positions by providing a five-day notice.
He stated that the board is actively trying to provide alternative employment opportunities for them. Some of them might have the chance to work in the designated occasional teacher program, which aims to assign substitute teachers to a specific school as much as possible.
Morgan mentioned that assuming a role like that would be a significant departure from what she agreed to in June.
She stated that being a regular classroom teacher for an extended period of time is a distinct job from someone who substitutes for a teacher on a daily basis.
She mentioned that the role does not offer any sick leave or health benefits, unlike the LTO position where she had them. Additionally, she would need to be ready for redeployment if there were no teacher absences at her assigned school.
She mentioned that it could also have an impact on her future professional opportunities, as having experience in an LTO position is highly valued in a resume.
“I gain valuable insights by teaching a consistent group of students for an entire year,” she expressed. “Concluding this particular assignment creates a gap in my professional experience.”
Ottawa Morning5:41Some teachers in OCDSB are placed into more unstable work situations due to an overestimation of their skills.
Shuffling hard on permanent teachers too
Dixon stated that it is not uncommon to witness a reorganization at the start of the year, but she has never encountered a situation like this year’s, where the board’s estimate exceeded the actual number of students by approximately 1,600.
“We miscalculated the number of students, which is the unusual aspect,” she explained. “We anticipated a higher rate of growth.”
Rebecca Zuckerbrodt, the president of the Ottawa-Carleton Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, expressed that the reorganization is equally burdensome for permanent contract members.
They have also dedicated a month familiarizing themselves with their students, and now some are required to begin anew with an entirely fresh set of students.
According to Zuckerbrodt, approximately 80 contract teachers were being reassigned at a specific time, although this may not be the most up-to-date figure. She further mentioned that a few of them have been required to change schools.
She criticized a funding formula from the province, which she referred to as “broken.” This formula puts boards under financial constraints and strict deadlines, leaving them with the urgent task of finding ways to cover deficits when projections prove to be incorrect.
She referred to the situation as “chaos caused by the government,” which could pose challenges in attracting and retaining teachers.
Malaka Hendela, co-chair of the Ottawa Carleton Assembly of School Councils, has a 12-year-old at Centretown’s Glashan Public School. She said the reorganization cut one class there, pushing more students into her son’s classroom.
She mentioned that reorganizing can be challenging for students, resulting in significant interruptions to their learning and social growth.
Hendela mentioned that a student may encounter disturbance from their peers, disruption in learning, and a potential disconnect with their teacher.
She is worried that the disturbance could lead to a potential loss of teachers, either causing them to leave the district or quit their profession.
“It is difficult to lose your classroom and transition to occasional teaching,” she expressed. “This challenge will have an impact on the individuals who we rely on to become our future educators.”