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Teachers, parents and school board support staff came together in Halifax this week to challenge the government to restore much needed funding to the education system. CUPE, along with four other unions and the provincial home and school association, held a joint news conference to expose shortfalls in the school system and demand a meeting with the education minister.

This is the first time in the history of the province that a coalition of education unions has come together for a common cause. It is not expected to be the last time, as the Tory government has indicated more cuts are coming in next years budget. This past spring the government cut $20 million from the system, mostly through layoffs to teachers and support staff.

CUPE Nova Scotia president Betty Jean Sutherland said the cuts have been particularly hard on teachers aides, who were cut back by 2 1/2 hours per week, and saw their workloads increase. Layoffs to maintenance and cleaning staff means that preventative maintenance will not get done and schools will deteriorate at an even faster rate, she added.

CUPE and other unions also criticized the former Liberal governments P3 school initiative, which, along with other problems, has created a two-tier education system in the province.