Twenty-three employees of the now-defunct Nova Central School District received layoff notices on August 9. The reasoning was the their positions were now redundant due to the amalgamation of the four boards into one.
"Those positions would have been primarily in executive support and financial administration," said Darin King, CEO and director of education for the new English school board. "The amalgamation of the four districts into one saw a lot of centralization in some areas, especially finance and payroll."
King said since those functions will now be handled in St. John's the administrative support in the four previous districts has now become redundant. The office in Gander will still have a regional director for the central region and departments such as operations, human resources and educational support staff will still have a presence.
"What you will see is what I call the back office positions centralized, but we didn't take away even the operations and maintenance structure that was in place," he said. "People saying 'we won't get the same level of service because someone has to come from somewhere else,' that won't happen. Those functions that maintain our buildings, that maintain the educational support, will still have the regional presence."
He said the main focus in these layoffs is to strengthen and streamline the administrative functions and support for schools.
"If we can consolidate the resources and expertise provincially it puts us in a better position to work with school and support schools," King said. "We're pooling our resources to better take advantage of that."
In the past school districts had shared resources, King said, but with the streamlining it can be more effectively used.
"If an area needs support, be it short or long term, we can focus on that support and make sure we have the expertise in the province, since we're not split into four districts," he said.
King said they recognize this is difficult for the employees affected and those employees have an equal chance at the jobs remaining in the system. Location will be a determining factor he said, and they are working with both NAPE and CUPE to make the transition as seamless as possible.
"If it's a union position and you're highest on the seniority list then you have the first shot at the job you want and unionized employees also have the opportunity, if they don't want to move out of the region, to exercise their bumping rights," he said.
They are trying to take the same approach to non-unionized positions as well, he said, giving province-wide consideration for positions, which wasn't done in the past.
That is in addition to a number of senior management positions that were announced to be eliminated during an earlier part of the process. In total 19 senior management positions were cut from the four districts.
Pike said they aim to have the consolidation process completed by the beginning of the school year.