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EDMONTON – The union representing teaching assistants and administrative staff at Edmonton Public Schools says it expects over 200 full time equivalent positions to be reduced at Edmonton Public Schools next year.

Trudy Grebenstein, President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 3550, says an $8 million dollar deficit will mean a large staff reduction for the 2006-07 school year. The school district has notified CUPE cuts are coming, and Grebenstein expects the cuts to be deep.

By my estimate, there will be a reduction of 200 full time equivalent positions among CUPE 3550 members,” said Grebenstein. “There will also be reductions in custodial and teaching staff on top of that.”

Grebenstein put the blame squarely on the provincial government, saying it’s funding formula doesn’t take into account negotiated wage increases.

Just maintaining the status quo would mean a 3.2% increase in funding to Edmonton Public,” said Grebenstein. “But funding from the province has remained static – which means a deficit and it means cut backs.”

The union said cutbacks will mean fewer classroom resources and busier teachers.

When you take teaching assistants out of the classroom, it means special needs kids don’t get the help they need, and teachers don’t have as much time for students.”

The union was also critical of Edmonton Public School Trustees, who Grebenstein called ‘weak’ for not making more noise about government funding.

It’s wrong for the Trustees to remain so quiet,” said Grebenstein. “If they are not out there putting pressure on the province to kick in more funding, as far as I’m concerned – they are as much to blame as the Tories.”


For more information about CUPE Alberta, visit www.alberta.cupe.ca