Workers at Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board, about 200 km east of Tornoto, are raising the alarm over the school board’s plans to close or consolidate 11 schools, including 9 elementary and 2 high schools in Belleville, Centre Hastings and Prince Edward County. In reports posted on their website, the school board outlines the recommended school closures, along with cuts from different service areas, including an estimated $1.4 million in cuts to front‑line school board staff.

“Our members are the backbone of our schools – we keep the schools safe and clean and provide vital services to the most vulnerable students in our schools,” said David Le Riche, president of CUPE 1022. “Cutting $1.4 million in front‑line services will severely impact the quality of services and the educational experience that our members provide for students.”

“Based on our rough estimates, $1.4 million in cuts could translate into cutting approximately 40 front‑line positions, the very same workers who keep our schools in tip‑top condition,” said Laura Walton, vice-president of CUPE 1022. “These cuts would mean there will be less staff to keep our schools clean and safe, and important services provided in the classrooms could be compromised.”

CUPE 1022 represents over 700 school board workers in 48 elementary and secondary schools in Hastings and Prince Edward County. These workers are maintenance and custodians, secretaries and administration staff, IT workers, educational assistants and early childhood educators.

“We have reached out to parents and residents who are equally alarmed at the prospects of closing more schools that will impact the quality of education in our communities,” continued Walton. “We are encouraging concerned parents and community allies to attend upcoming school board meetings and tell our board to stop closing schools and invest in quality public education.”

“We don’t understand why more schools are being recommended for closure when student enrollment and funding are not declining,” said Le Riche. “School board officials need to look closely at the impact of school closures on the well-being of our communities.” Elected officials from different communities affected by school closures, including the mayor of Belleville, have questioned school closures and asked for a proper review process to reflect the needs of the community. CUPE continues to call for a moratorium on school closures until there is a full public consultation and review of the funding formula.