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KINGSTON, Ont. – Area school board support workers say they intend to launch a fightback against a provincial education funding formula that disproportionately targets cuts to hundreds of secretaries, custodians, technical staff, and education assistants, and they are attending an emergency meeting in Toronto today to plan their strategy.

At the meeting organized by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), which represents nearly 50,000 school support workers province-wide, the local education workers will vote on a plan focused on both local and provincial actions aimed at putting pressure on the provincial government to fix the funding formula and address serious education funding shortfalls.

To balance budgets for 2006-2007, Ontario school boards had to dip into reserve funds and cut staff. The Limestone District School Board used $468,000 from the Workplace Safety & Insurance Board (WSIB) reserve fund and had a $3 million budget shortfall. The shortfall is the difference between the provincial funding the board receives under the education funding formula and what the board actually needs to maintain existing programs. The Algonquin-Lakeshore Catholic District School Board has depleted its funding reserves.

The majority of Ontario school boards will be in the throes of a widespread financial crisis by the end of the current school year, a CUPE data report released today shows. With too little provincial money to meet basic operating costs and to respond to local needs, local school boards will be faced with the only option available to them to meet balanced budget legislation in 2007-2008: massive program and staff cuts.

Kingston and area school board workers believe that parents and public education advocates in the community are not fully aware of the looming crisis and the depth of the cuts that are happening, some of which are hidden, such as the cuts to special education that result from educational assistants increasing supervision of non-special-needs students. And they will be mobilizing, leading into the October provincial election, to ensure the public understands that the McGuinty Liberals are fueling the cuts by not fixing the education funding formula.

To contact Kingston and area school board workers attending the Toronto meeting today, please contact:

Stella Yeadon
CUPE Communications.
(416) 578-8774