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Job cuts could affect arts programs at Central Tech, staff warns

On any given day, Adam Brockie is loading a kiln, mixing chemicals and maintaining Central Technical School’s bronze foundry. A few weeks ago he got a notice saying his job is in jeopardy and now there’s concern that without him the school’s arts programs won’t be able to run.

Brockie is the technical support for Central Tech’s sculpture and ceramic courses. He helps both the high school teachers during the day and those who teach the packed night-school classes.

“It’s a labour intensive job. I’m ordering supplies, cleaning and bringing in tradesmen when there’s a problem,” said Brockie.

The letter from the Toronto District School Board states that “due to a change in support levels” there could be “a requirement to reduce/eliminate the number of Sculpture Technician positions.”

Loss would make it tougher for teachers

That worries night school teacher Elaine Jacques.

“There’s such a lack of awareness or understanding of what actually goes into hands-on art programs,” said Jacques, who teaches sculpture.

a man standing in a kitchen preparing food

© Provided by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Losing Brockie, teachers fear, could mean taking on a whole other job, in addition to teaching that they’re not qualified to do.  

“There’s so much that goes into what Adam does. You’re dealing with safety, with temperatures. You couldn’t just do a day workshop and just do what Adam does,” said Jacques.

Central Tech has a reputation for fine arts with an entire building dedicated to painting, sculpting and bronze work. Lawren Harris, one of the members of the Group of Seven, attended the school. It has programs for both high school students and adults.  

“It could rival any of the post secondary institutions in Canada,” said Brockie.

Board ‘cutting the legs out from under’ arts programs, student says 

In a statement, the Toronto District School Board said the decision to cut certain roles isn’t official. The board is just providing a warning as it works on the budget. The statement goes on to say that “the [job] notice may be rescinded as the budget is finalized and we receive clarity about staffing that supports teachers.”

For longtime student Charles Milgrom, job cuts seem to signal the end of the arts.

“They’re cutting the legs out from under the programs by wiping out not the instructors, not the courses but the technicians that make the programs viable,” Milgrom told CBC Toronto.    

The TDSB has not said it will cut any art programs at the school. Brockie should find out in the coming weeks if his position is safe.

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