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June 22, 2011

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Parents and staff say no to cuts for most vulnerable students

TERRACE—CUPE 2052 joined parents, teachers and other concerned citizens to call on the Board of Education to rethink unfair budget cuts that hit classrooms and students.

Wilma Maier, president of CUPE 2052 representing support staff in the Coast Mountain School District, was at the meeting to send a strong message.

“We know that the provincial government is underfunding education. But the trustees will make a bad situation worse with their proposal to cut classroom services for the neediest children in the district, while at the same time putting money into higher management salaries and more management staff at the board office,” said Maier.

The June 22 meeting is the third and final meeting at which trustees have heard many concerns from staff and the community.

The district’s provincial revenue for 2011/12 has flat lined. The overall district budget is $51.4 million, about $17,000 or .03 per cent less than the previous year. Student numbers are set to decline by less than one per cent in 2011/12 - at a much slower rate than in past years.

On the expense side, the proposed board budget will would increase funding for principals, vice-principals and other professionals, while all other staff areas, especially Education Assistants who work with special needs students, will see deep cuts. The budget proposes cuts of more than 18 per cent of Education Assistants.

CUPE will be seeking to make a presentation to the board to pose a number of questions including:

Why are cuts being placed so disproportionately on special education services and EA positions when special education enrolment in the district is only declining slightly?

How can the board justify increasing staffing for principals, vice-principals and other professional positions at a time when direct services to students (EAs and teachers) are taking a major hit?

Why is the board increasing spending by $182,000 on salaries for other professional positions, while projecting reduced staffing levels for this same group of district employees?

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