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Learning Minister Lyle Oberg said on Wednesday, that it was too early to tell the impact on school boards of the lack of government funding for the recent teachers settlement. “We can tell him right now what the impact is,” says Doug Luellman, President of CUPE Local 474, “It has cost jobs for custodial workers in Edmonton Public Schools.” CUPE Local 474 represents over 600 custodial workers in Edmonton Public Schools.

“Even before the final budget approval is made, on September 30, we have seen cuts to custodial staff in our schools”, says Luellman. “Fifteen schools have cut custodial staff already. This is the worst set of cuts we have seen prior to September 30, in ten years. Luellman says the union is concerned that cuts to custodial staff are not yet finished. There is still a week to go as schools scramble to balance their budgets.

We warned of custodial cuts when school started this term,” says Luellman. “Because of government under-funding the board has a deficit. Because of school based management, the board has passed the deficit down to each school.”

“If Learning Minister Oberg doesnt believe that his government policy of holding the line on education funding has had a negative impact on staffing in our schools, we have custodians that say otherwise.”

The government is forcing school boards and schools to cut jobs, jobs that directly impact on the health, safety and learning ability of students and staff in our schools, says Luellman. “Studies done in Alberta and Saskatchewan schools show cutting custodial staff in schools impacts on the cleanliness and maintenance of those buildings, producing a negative impact on student health and learning.”

Luellman says that CUPE supports the ATA in its struggle with the government over full funding for public education.

“It’ s not the ATA or the School Boards that have created this situation. The problem lies smack in the Governments lap. They have refused to fund school boards to the level needed based on the teachers arbitration settlement.”

Luellman says reduced cleaning and poor air quality in schools causes increases in student absenteeism and respiratory problems like asthma. “This directly impacts on the ability of a student to learn,” he said.

“We don’t need less custodial staff in our schools we need more of them, we have been cut to the bone in the last ten years,” says Luellman. “The irony is that schools that cut custodial staff are not making any real savings, we are the lowest paid workers in the district. There are other methods for finding savings such as reducing supplies and computer purchases.


For further information:
Doug Luellman. President CUPE Local 474
(780) 447-5858 or
Pam Beattie, CUPE Communication Representative
(780) 288-1230