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PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. School District 57s board of trustees should open its books and let the public have a say in the budgeting process, say local and provincial CUPE leaders in revealing irregularities.

The trustees have refused to disclose proposed budget changes, said Marilyn Hannah, CUPE Local 3742 president. And they have refused twice to let us make a presentation on preliminary budget irregularities.

Why are these school trustees so afraid of public scrutiny? asked Barry ONeill, CUPE B.C. president. Why not allow full public input into the way funds are being spent on the educational services our children deserve?

CUPE has commissioned an analysis of Prince Georges school budgets over the past two years. The findings regarding last years preliminary budget raise doubts about the care, accuracy and accountability of this school district.

The analysis notes that administrative salaries were to go up by 5.8 per cent while education assistants were to be cut by 10 per cent. While clerical and special education staff were to be slashed, supplies and services would jump by $3.3 million.

These and other findings raise serious questions that affect the lives of our children, Hannah said. The trustees have a responsibility to provide answers to parents and the public.

We are finding these irregularities in several of the 50 districts we studied, ONeill added. Clearly we need a budgeting process for school boards in this province that is transparent for parents, staff and the public.

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EDITORS NOTE: Barry ONeill and Marilyn Hannah will be available for comment on the school budget process on Tuesday, May 29 from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Contact: Marilyn Hannah, CUPE Local 3742 President, (250) 563-9129; Barry ONeill, CUPE B.C. President, (604) 916-8444.