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EDMONTON - Front line school support workers represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) met this weekend in Edmonton and discussed funding for special needs students and deferred maintenance projects on schools.

If parents knew how much money actually makes it to the classrooms they would be up in arms,” said CUPE Alberta Education Chair Richard Scarfe of Calgary. “Despite an $8 billion surplus the government has chosen to choke school boards by not properly funding public education.”

It appears than many school boards waste funding directed to special needs students by top-heavy administration that leads to less than desirable service to the children who need the help,” said Scarfe. “Parents of special needs children across the province should be raising the alarm.”

Also of concern was the issue of maintenance funding for schools. Drake Hammill, President of CUPE Local 40, made a presentation on the deferred deficit in Calgary Public Schools maintenance. Hammill spoke of leaky roofs that led to the closure of several schools in Calgary on May 27th. Hammill said crumbling bricks and roofs that are about to collapse have been caused by chronic under funding and deferred maintenance of schools in Calgary.

The problem exists in varying degrees across the province and the Alberta government has turned a blind eye to the issue,” said Hammill.

Hammill challenged the government to act immediately to bring forward the dollars required to complete deferred maintenance projects and adjust the funding formula for Alberta schools to properly sustain the public education system in Alberta.

They owe it to the children of our province to provide a clean, safe and properly staffed public education system,” said Hammill. “The government’s plan to save billions of dollars in the Heritage Trust Fund for a rainy day has been shown to be a huge mistake as evidence by the events at Calgary Public Schools this weekend.”

CUPE represents approximately 8,000 education workers who work as secretaries, library techs, custodians, trades and education assistants who work with special needs children. CUPE is Canada’s largest union with over 540,000 members from coast to coast.