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Caretaking, maintenance and stores staff in Calgary released a report May 26 that shows the extent and consequences of continued underfunding of the Calgary Board of Education.

This underfunding has forced students to work in dirtier and less secure schools and had demoralized all front-line staff from teachers to caretakers and cleaners, said Fred Latreille, president of CUPE 40 in releasing the study. The cuts have seen our workloads increase by 30 per cent in the last eight or nine years. And as our numbers have declined, vandalism in the schools has increased.

The number of full-time caretakers has declined from 532 in 1986 to 484 in 1999 and part-time cleaners have declined from 211 to 110. Three-quarters of CBE caretakers are now putting in extra unpaid time before and/or after their shifts to cope with the increased workloads.

Citing several examples where funding for the CBE is inadequate, the report argues that Calgary schools are dirtier and less secure. And it quotes a Carnegie study that shows that students achievement increased as their surroundings improved, with students in schools with poor conditions 10.9 percentage points behind those housed in schools in excellent shape.

The local has launched a postcard campaign demanding increased provincial funding for Calgary schools.