Library technicians who work for the Saskatoon Public School Division are having their hours cut to deal with a projected budget shortfall of $8 million. CUPE 8443, the union representing these workers, are speaking out about the impacts these cuts will have on students.

“Library technicians are an integral part of the library experience for all students. We are the face of the library, working daily to keep it accessible and ready for students and staff,” said Dene Nicholson, president of CUPE 8443 and a library technician. “Library technicians add and process new books, circulate and file existing books, and help find the perfect book for each student.”

Staff were given notice that their hours for the 2021-22 school year would be reduced by a total of 4.7 full-time equivalent positions. This reduction will impact dozens of staff in elementary schools across the division.

These cuts come on top of years of cuts to library staffing. In 2017, nine 12-month library technician positions at the central school board office were cut, and this workload was given to the school-based technicians. In 2020, hours for teacher librarians were also cut.

“Once again, through cutbacks to the school libraries, the Saskatoon Public School Division is asking the library technicians to do more work in less time. We know this will have an impact on the student experience,” added Nicholson. “If the division is serious in its goal to have all students reading at a grade 3 level by grade 3, they need to be investing in libraries and the staff that are qualified to help spark the joy of reading in students.”

CUPE 8443 is concerned that the school division will announce additional cuts that will impact students and staff.

“The Saskatoon Public School Division is dealing with years of inadequate provincial funding. With an $8 million shortfall, what other services are students going to be missing out on?”, said Nicholson. “The government needs to step up and find the appropriate funding for our students, and the division needs to reinstate library staffing levels.”

CUPE 8443 represents over 1,200 education support staff at Saskatoon public schools.