HALIFAX – The union representing thousands of school board workers across Nova Scotia is applauding a recommendation from the Special Needs Review Panel to phase out so-called ‘Tuition Support Agreements’.
CUPE Nova Scotia President Danny Cavanagh says, “Tuition Support Agreements represent what amounts to the introduction of ‘school vouchers’ into Nova Scotia. While we can understand parents’ frustration with the inability of an under-funded and under-supported public school system to meet the needs of their children, we cannot accept the government’s response which has been to wash its hands of the problem.
“What the government seems to be saying with these agreements is ‘we can’t help you, take your per-pupil grant and go to a private school.’ This approach may be benefiting a small number of students, but as a long-term policy it is the wrong direction,” says Cavanagh.
“We couldn’t agree more with Report chair Walter Farmer when he says the idea is to get the education department to stick to the principle of providing all services to all students within the public education system.
“As currently constituted, the Tuition Support program lacks fairness. It is only readily available to students in Metro Halifax and to a lesser extent, the Valley. And it is only accessible to students whose parents are able to afford to pay the difference between the per-pupil grant and a school’s tuition fees,” he says.
As part of its brief to the Review Panel, CUPE recommended the provincial government ensure that boards are able to meet the need for Teaching Assistant hours by funding any additional positions required and/or restoring 100% positions, as a good starting point for improving services to special needs students.
President, CUPE Nova Scotia
(902) 957-0822 (cell)
CUPE Communications Representative
(902) 455-4180 (o)