Rocky View Schools (RVS) is temporarily laying off 240 support staff and repurposing central funds originally allocated for substitute teachers, and nearly 50 support staff temporary contracts after voting Apr. 8 to reduce their operating budget for April, May, and June by $5.03 million.  

The decision comes after the Alberta Government reduced instructional and transportation grants for the remainder of the school year after classes were cancelled and students began learning at home. The $5.03 million reduction by RVS will match the drop in funding from the province.

RVS board chair Fiona Gilbert says funding for staffing will be reduced by $3.46 million while transportation will be reduced by $1.57 million.

"Upon thorough consideration of the government's announcement, our board has decided to repurpose all central funds originally allocated for substitute teachers, and nearly 50 support staff temporary contracts, as well as temporarily layoff 240 support staff effective May 10th."

Gilbert says while the board is saddened by the layoffs, there was no other alternative.

"The decision was made kind of for us when the government decided to make a change to our funding model that they made on Mar. 28," explains Gilbert.  "They announced they were going to be taking back some fo the instructional grants, so 14 per cent of instructional grants and 51 per cent of transportation grants for the remainder fo the school year."

Gilbert says to continue with the board's priority for the continuity of learning, the layoffs will include select education centre support staff, as well as school-based learning commons staff and receptionists.  About half of the learning assistants in Rocky View Schools will face temporary layoffs.

Gilbert says they've tried to limit the impact on students from the layoff of learning assistants but she admits some will be affected more than others.  

In the weeks ahead, voluntary layoffs will be investigated to try to mitigate these staff layoffs.  Staff on temporary layoffs will have the option to maintain health, dental, long-term disability, and life insurance with the board paying their premiums.

As asked by the government, transportation costs will be reduced by $1.57 million from April to June.  Gilbert says bus contracts are already being renegotiated to respond to the reductions.

Gilbert says each RVS staff member is important to the division.

"We look forward to having our full team back when schools reopen, and students return."