In an exclusive commentary in the Sun newspapers on Saturday June 3, 2006, Canadian Superstar Actress Pamela Anderson, who is to be inducted into the Canadian Walk of Fame this week, says; “We have great education. My schools were beautiful and well-maintained.”
If that was only true today as it was when Pamela went to school, in fact, Public education in Alberta is facing a major crisis. Despite promises from the Provincial Government to fund repairs to schools across the province, nothing has been done since 1999. At that time the Alberta Government paid for an assessment of the condition of Alberta Schools. Shortly after that assessment, the Government announced a $750 million dollar program to upgrade schools. They announced the same funding for the past five years, but school boards across the province have yet to see this money.
While Horse Racing in Alberta received a $45 million dollar grant from the Alberta Government this year, public schools across the province have been under funded, placing them in the position of having serious deficits. In Edmonton, both the Public and Catholic School boards have deficits. Deficits that are a pittance in comparison with the current budget surplus the province has.
The result is that, custodial and maintenance staff in our schools are being cut. This means that our schools will not be either “beautiful or well-maintained.”
As studies have shown, schools that are not well maintained will result in lower student achievement scores. That is the crisis currently facing Edmonton Public Schools. The district currently faces a $10 million shortfall in funding from the Klein Government. “Make no mistake about it, this is not a district problem, but the direct result of funding cuts by the provincial government,” says Doug Luellman, President of CUPE Local 474, which represents custodial workers in Edmonton Public schools and Black Gold school district.” School districts across this province are facing deficits while the government enjoys record surpluses. There is something wrong with this picture.”
While Alberta experiences record surpluses, school boards are facing record deficits and are being forced to cut staff says Luellman. “The government is leaderless and directionless. They are acting like this is 1995 when in reality they are swimming in money.”
CUPE locals in Edmonton Public Schools are currently facing record cuts to their membership as the district imposes deficit reduction policies to schools. “The Board is downloading their fiscal problems to the schools, while they fail to demand the government pay up,” says Luellman. “If Pamela Anderson can tell it like it is, then the Board can too. Instead of insisting that schools cut staff they should be insisting that the Alberta Government pay its fair share.”
CUPE is Canada’s largest union with over half a million women and men who provide public services. In Alberta, CUPE’s 26,000 members work in health care, municipalities, schools, colleges, universities, libraries, emergency medical services, social services and casinos. Visit our CUPE websites for more information www.cupe.ca and www.cupealberta.ab.ca
For further information contact:
Doug Luellman, phone: 780-447-5858, cell: 780-446-5688, fax: 447-4999, email: