For more than a decade Lindsay Collegiate and Vocational Institute (LCVI) has run the Gold Star Construction
The program targeted senior students, many of whom faced challenges in regular classrooms, and offered real world work experiences on job sites around Lindsay. It also offered them a range of useful certifications including First Aid, Working at Heights, and Chainsaw operator certification.
With the cuts to education from the PC government under Premier Doug Ford, that program will not return next year, despite students having already enrolled in it, says a press release from OSSTF.
Richard Lucas, who has taught the construction program recently said, “we have had so many success stories with students who are non-traditional learners” and went on to say that, “the loss of this program will limit the early exposure of skilled trades work to student who could benefit most from this style of learning.”
Over the years, the Gold Star program has partnered with Mason Homes, Habitat for Humanity, the Kawartha Region Conservation Authority and others providing students exposure to a variety of skilled trades in live job site environments. The program has won awards from a variety of these bodies and many students have gone on to work in various trades including some that have progressed from the program to apprenticeships.
This loss of the construction program comes as Trillium Lakelands DSB reduces its teaching complement in order to comply with the Minister of Education’s announcement that high school funding ratios would move from 22:1 to 28:1 over three years. This loss, along with the closure of four Alternate and Adult Education Centres, comes as the Board moves to approximately a 24:1 ratio, largely through attrition, as prescribed by the Ford government.
The teachers’ unions, including OSSTF, have said that programming would need to be cut and options available to students would be be reduced. We are now seeing the beginning of these program cuts unfold, according to local OSSTF President Colin Matthew.
As school boards struggle with reduced resources it’s obvious that something has to give, the OSSTF leader says, pointing out these specialized learning environments have served some of the area’s most vulnerable students.
“Attrition is fine if Doug Ford is to be taken literally but as we are already seeing attrition can’t teach Gold Star, attrition can’t coach basketball or lead a band and with larger classes left behind teachers will have much less time for each student and for activities outside of the classroom.”
Given that these cuts are the only the beginning of three years of cutting, and teachers are entering negotiations as contracts expire at the end of August, Matthew wonders what course offerings will look like in three years’ time.
“I’m concerned for the students, including my own three kids in the system, I’m concerned for our members, and frankly I’m concerned for the future of public education in this province. Ontario currently ranks incredibly highly on all global measures. These cuts put our education system in jeopardy, when it should be protected.”