EDMONTON – Announced layoffs of over 600 full time equivalent staff at Edmonton Public Schools are another blow to a struggling public education system. That was the message from Trudy Grebenstein, President of CUPE 3550, representing educational support staff in the school district.
“Public education in Edmonton is already suffering from cut backs and school closures,” said Grebenstein. “To lose almost four hundred classroom aides and two hundred teachers will hurt students.”
The union says class room support staff will be reduced by 388 FTEs (full time equivalents), there will be 212 fewer teaching FTEs, and 31 fewer maintenance FTEs.
Grebenstein rejected claims that the cut backs are due to lower enrolment. “The number of registered kids this month are about the same as the number registered last year, we all know that by the end of September, that number is going up.”
Instead, Grebenstein blamed the provincial government for not funding school districts properly. “The Stelmach government is responsible for larger class sizes and fewer supports for kids – there is no doubt about it,” said Grebenstein. “Education Minister Dave Hancock pushed school boards and unions into a wage structure he now won’t pay for.”