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Inadequate funding for support services is hurting schools and students. Thats the conclusion of a report prepared for the Grande Yellowhead regional school division in Edson, Alberta by CUPE Local 1357 which represents teacher and library aides, technology, mainte-nance and trades, and administrative and clerical staff.

Earlier this year we did a survey of our members, said local president Pat Mitchell. What we found isnt surprising.

There are not enough teacher aides for special needs children or a library aide in each school. Nor can we maintain our schools properly. One school has been waiting a year for repairs to its parking lot lighting. Clerical staff have had hours cut and administrative work cant be completed. Many of our people, in fact, are putting in unpaid overtime because they care about our schools.

Support staff believe support services are not funded adequately because of a systemic undervaluing of the work they do.

Highlights of the brief include:

  • When asked, have any support staff been cut in your school, shop or work area? 52 per cent responded yes (61 per cent in the case of teacher aides)

  • 85 per cent of teacher aides identified less time to support children with serious learning disabilities as a problem

  • Two-thirds of teacher aides said that there was no time for teacher aide support for children with mild/moderate needs. An additional 27 per cent said this was sometimes a problem for a total of 94 per cent

  • 63 per cent of respondents said the reduction in hours for staff is affecting access to library and computer resources

  • Almost half of the respondents reported that reduction in book purchases was a problem

  • 44 per cent of clerical staff were concerned about reduced clerical hours for receiving phone calls and observing students safe arrivals at school and leaving for home

  • Half of staff indicated that staff cuts and reduced hours were resulting in delays in responding to maintenance calls and cuts to preventative maintenance.