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NEW WESTMINSTER District School Board support staff have found serious irregularities in the boards budgeting process that could affect services to special needs children and others.

Our researchers findings raise questions about last years budget preparations, the accuracy of its figures, and future staffing allotments, said Marcel Marsolais, CUPE Local 409 president. Several inconsistencies undermined the accuracy of the preliminary budget.

For example, the board planned to lay off nine education assistants, the professionals so vital to ensuring that special needs children get the needed attention. Thats 18 per cent of the staff in this category. Yet the board only budgeted a salary spending fall of 3.3 per cent.

This decision was short-sighted given that this student population is growing, Marsolais said. But the board added insult to injury with plans to hire more administrative officers and to fill three positions that had no designation. The special education assistants were kept on staff.

Research over the past five months, involving more than 50 preliminary school district budgets, showed that New Westminsters operating budget would increase 1.2 per cent while enrolment would rise 3.3 per cent.

Administrative officer salary spending jumped 8.5 per cent while staffing levels fell by 0.4 full-time equivalent positions. Spending for clerical staff rose more than 9 per cent, but staffing levels stayed the same.

The research shows that the board consistently underestimates some revenues, allowing the board to paint a dismal financial forecast for the coming year. By creating a climate of fear and anxiety, parents, the public and employee groups are pre-conditioned to expect cuts in services and jobs, Marsolais said.

CUPE will make a presentation at the Queen Elizabeth Elementary School, 921 Salter, Queensborough, New Westminster, tonight at 7:30 p.m.


Marcel Marsolais, Local 409 President,
Bill Harper, CUPE National Representative,
341-4869 (cell).