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(Halifax) – The union representing the vast majority of school support staff who work with special needs students says a review announced by the deputy minister yesterday had better look at the issue of inadequate staffing if it is to be credible.

CUPE School Board Co-ordinator Kathy MacLeod, whose union represents hundreds of Teaching Assistants, and Educational Program Assistants as they’re called in the HRSB, says, “EPA’s in Halifax are at the bargaining table right now and one of their main issues is the school board’s decision back in 2001 to move to so-called ‘percentage’ positions.

This has allowed HRSB to cut many positions to 80% and in some cases even 50%. Special needs students who used to have support staff for 100% of their school day don’t have that any more.

“It has been a cost-cutting exercise on the backs of these workers and students who require the services, and it has been a dismal failure.

Deputy Minister Cochrane and his minister, Karen Casey, needs to talk to these frontline workers about how inadequate staffing across this province is having an impact on the educational experiences of special needs students,” says MacLeod.

For this review to be in any way taken seriously,” says MacLeod, “the government will need to pay close attention to those whose job it is to ensure special needs students are able to be in the classroom in the first place.”

On behalf of CUPE school board workers, we welcome the opportunity to give them lots of feedback,” says MacLeod.

For information:

Kathy MacLeod
CUPE School Board Co-ordinator
(902) 539-4933 (o)
(902) 578-3304 (cell)

John McCracken
CUPE Communications Rep.
(902) 455-4180 (o)