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EA cuts will hurt special needs students warns CUPE

Oshawa, Ont. – The Durham District School Board’s decision to cut more than 50 per cent of highly qualified and experienced educational assistants (EA 2s) will lead to a loss of specialized services provided to special needs students, warns the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).  The board is planning to cut 38 of 70 specialized child and youth workers, known as EA 2s with advanced qualifications and experience working with special needs students. 

According to the board, they are simply changing their delivery model for special needs students,” said Don Bryans, president of CUPE 218. “But the reality is they are cutting care to these students in spite of having more monies available to them from the provincial government.”

The provincial government allocated $970,000, to Durham District School Board, in the upcoming school year for special needs students in the recently signed provincial framework agreement with school boards and unionized workers. In this agreement, monies have been earmarked to enhance direct services to students with special needs and/or at-risk students requiring the services of professionals and paraprofessionals, such as the EA 2s.

Instead of using the close to one million dollars in extra funding for high needs students, Durham District School Board is planning to cut support for the very same students the funding is trying to help,” said Bryans. “What is the message this board is sending to special needs students, their parents and our community?”

The Durham Public School Board offers a highly respected special needs program, resulting in parents with special needs students seeking enrolment in Durham schools. This has led to a higher budget allocation for special needs programs in the overall Durham school board budget. “Why would this board not use the extra million dollars to care for the over 2,600 high needs students by retaining the EA 2s,” asked Marion Moore, EA and CUPE 218 unit chair.

This board must explain their decision to the parents of students who will lose these services,” said Moore. “We are urging parents to express their concerns to the board, to press them to reinstate the child and youth worker that help their children every day.”

CUPE 218 members will attend the school board meeting on Wednesday evening, June 3, to express their outrage at the cuts and urge school board trustees to reject plans that will hurt the quality of education in Durham. The board will finalize their budget plans, including the elimination of 38 EA 2 positions, at the June 10 school board meeting.

Just how will these special needs students receive the quality care and assistance when more than half of the specialized child and youth workers are pushed out the school doors,” said Bryans.

For further information, please contact:

Don Bryans, CUPE 218 President, 905-571-7879
Marion Moore, EA and CUPE 218 Unit Chair, 905-571-7879
Betty Sommers, CUPE National Representative, 905-433-4760
James Chai, CUPE Communications, 416-292-3999