NANAIMO –CUPE 606 President Rob Zver today called on the School District 68 (Nanaimo-Ladysmith) Board to amend its budget and properly fund education support services. Despite having a surplus of $1.7 million for 2015, the Board recently passed a budget that calls for large cuts to the facilities department including layoffs for caretakers, carpenters, electricians, maintenance and grounds workers.
“Students need clean and safe schools, and cuts to facilities and maintenance put them at risk,” said Zver. “It doesn’t make any sense to put students at risk when there is a budget surplus.”
Zver likened the impact of the planned cuts to having one custodian responsible for cleaning the equivalent space of 40 average-sized homes in one day. And that does not include maintaining the security of the buildings. Currently the square footage cleaned and maintained by CUPE 606 members is already among the highest in the province.
Zver noted that cuts leave students at risk of being in dirty schools and puts preventative maintenance of older buildings in jeopardy. These cuts will also make it harder to keep schools safe. When buildings aren’t repaired in a timely manner and grounds aren’t maintained safely, children are put in harm’s way. “This has got to impact somewhere. It means dirtier schools and unsafe grounds throughout the district.”
“I’m calling on the Board to put some of the forecasted surplus into the operating budget for this year instead of making cuts,” said Zver, adding that it was “out of balance” to further reduce support services at a time when there is budget surplus.
SD #68 already had a $4.1 million surplus from previous years that it claims to be keeping for a time of need. “The Board wants to save the money for a rainy day,” said Zver. “I’m saying, it’s not just raining – it’s a tsunami.”
CUPE 606 represents all education support workers with Nanaimo/Ladysmith School District 68, except for excluded staff.