In a do-over meeting on Monday, Ontario’s Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board (HPEDSB) trustees adopted the exact same 2022-2023 budget they had declined just last week, this time with a five-to-four vote.
The now-approved budget for the next school year starting in September cements previously rejected cuts of 11 front-line workers who directly support students’ success and safety: four custodians, three secretaries, one maintenance worker, one IT technician, one accounting analyst, and the board’s only mail clerk.
These cuts of front-line education workers are happening despite enrollment rising 1.2% and the projection that overall funding for this board will increase by 3.1%.
Astonishingly, superintendent of business services and board treasurer Nick Pfeiffer explained during Monday’s meeting that funding for a newly created superintendent position, at the added cost of about $211,000 per year, was provided by the Ford government specifically for hiring yet another backroom senior manager.
“Children and their families deserve clean, well-maintained, and safe schools – and this is work that requires people on the job, not cuts to the front lines or more superintendents,” said Jo-Anne White, president of CUPE 1022. “At the same time as this board is laying off the people who actually do the work of supporting students to succeed and keeping students safe, they turn around and hire another overpaid backroom boss. It’s just shocking.”
“Premier Doug Ford and labour minister Monte McNaughton keep repeating surface-thin platitudes about how they’ve turned a new leaf and supposedly support workers,” said Laura Walton, president of CUPE’s Ontario School Boards Council of Unions (OSBCU). “If there’s an ounce of truth to what Ford and McNaughton are saying, they’ll redirect the $200,000 plus that’s going to be spent on another unnecessary backroom boss so the HPEDSB can rescind their cuts and put 11 hardworking people back to work.”
CUPE-Ontario School Boards Council of Unions (OSBCU) members are committed to guaranteeing services for students – services that kids need and their caregivers demand. In 2019, during the front-line workers’ last round of bargaining with the provincial government and school boards, CUPE-OSBCU members negotiated the Education Workers Protection Fund specifically to stop these sorts of damaging cuts that harm students.
The report Education Workers’ Wages in Ontario: The Impact of Ten Years of Cuts released this spring found that education workers are the lowest-paid in the sector, earning on average only $39,000 per year. The 11 HPEDSB education workers who are being cut were paid on average just $35,192.
List of front-line education workers cut by Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board:
- 4 relief custodians - cleaned schools throughout the board to support when staffing is needed to cover sick calls, medical appointments, vacation time.
$36,400 annual pay per worker.
- 1 maintenance person - repaired aging school buildings, fixed playground structures, removed snow and maintained grounds, changed HVAC filters, for the safety of students and staff.
$44,800 annual pay.
- 1 special education secretary - supported students who have Individual Education Plans (IEPs); arranged home instruction for students who need this for medical reasons.
$32,420 annual pay.
- 1 student services secretary - supported the curriculum coordinator teachers who lead the different subject areas.
$32,420 annual pay.
- 1 facilities operations secretary - ordered supplies to keep schools running and safe (e.g. hand soap and sanitizer, paper towels, toilet paper, sidewalk salt, cleaning products for custodians to use).
$30,430 annual pay.
- 1 IT technician - readied computers for use by students and teachers; supported students’ and teachers’ needs with the maintenance of printers, photocopiers, smartboards, etc.
$45,032 annual pay.
- 1 accounting analyst - one of three people who handled accounts receivable and accounts payable for the entire school board.
$39,290 annual pay.
- 1 mail clerk - the only person who handled all mail for the entire school board system of 42 schools; prepared the mail bags for school-to-school internal mail service plus mail to the local public health unit and Catholic school board; received deliveries and arranged for deliveries to schools and board officer personnel; only worked three days per week.
$20,740 annual pay.
CUPE 1022 represents 700 Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board custodians, school secretaries, computer technicians and technologists, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, heating ventilation and air conditioning workers, student supervision monitors, educational assistants, designated early childhood educators, communications disorders assistants, library technicians, and education centre staff.