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EDMONTON – The union representing Educational Assistants at Edmonton Public Schools is warning that proposed staff cuts will have a devastating impact on special needs children as well as their more typical classmates.

CUPE 3550 President, Trudy Grebenstein said she expects to lose the equivalent of almost 60 Educational-Assistants from the classrooms.  However, Grebenstein noted that most of these staff are part time, and most are responsible for multiple children.

Hundreds of classrooms will be without aides,” said Grebenstein. “That means a greater burden on teachers and less time for all the kids in the class.”

Grebenstein noted that with the board laying off hundreds of teaching positions – class sizes are already expected to increase, and the burden on teachers is going to be huge.

Teachers are expected to do their job, the Educational Assistants’ job, and deal with bigger, more crowded classrooms,” said Grebenstein.  “That’s bad news for everyone.

Grebenstein said the Alberta Government underfunding of education was to blame. 

We’ve been warning the government for the past two budgets that these cuts were coming.  I can’t escape the feeling that they were either not listening, don’t care, or both.”