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CUPE Local 474 President, Doug Luellman is challenging the trustees and administration of Edmonton Public Schools to “do the right thing” and refuse to accept cuts to custodial staff positions, or reducing custodial hours of work in order to balance school budgets. The challenge was issued at the regular meeting of trustees, September 24.

“This administration, with board approval, has told school principals that they must balance their budgets before September 30, even though the district has an $8 million dollar deficit. 15 custodial positions cut because of your directive,” Luellman told the board. “Since the Superintendent did not expressly state that schools could not cut positions, but directed principals to use common sense with their budgets, some schools have cut custodial staff.”

Luellman said that the savings made in schools by cutting custodial staff or reducing the hours of work is negligible. “These are the lowest paid workers in the district and we fail to see how further cuts to custodial staff can have any positive outcome. These cuts save schools less money than putting a freeze on new computer purchases.”

“On the other hand, these cuts to custodial staff could have a negative impact on the health and safety of students and staff and the public using our schools,” he said.

Luellman told the board that studies show that school cleanliness and maintenance can affect student illness, allergies and absenteeism and consequently be directly related to student achievement. “This district has come up with blueprints for increasing student achievement, yet they have no plan when it comes to keeping our schools clean, warm and safe. Now that has a real impact on student learning,” he added.

Luellman told the board they should direct the administration to not accept school budgets where custodial staff or hours have been cut. “Custodial staff has been cut to the bone over the past ten years, it is with superhuman effort that we have kept our schools clean and well maintained,” he said.

“The administration and board should reinstate the cut positions. “This administration needs to send a clear message that schools can not cut people,” he said.

Luellman told the board we would not have had cuts had the administration done its job and directed the principals how to balance their budgets. “All the superintendent had to do was clearly direct school principals not to cut staff positions. Instead with school-based management, principals acted like managers. When faced with the need to create a balanced budget for the district, they took the easy way out and cut staff,” concluded Luellman.


For further information contact
Doug Luellman President CUPE Local 474 (780) 447-5858