NSTU local president concerned about proposed program cuts
The president of the Cape Breton district local of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union says she is concerned about cuts being proposed as part of the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board’s budget although she says nothing is set in stone until the budget is passed.
Sally Capstick was responding to reports circulating that staff have been advised that cuts are pending to program areas such as resource, social work, learning disabilities and elementary level art if the board passes the budget as currently proposed.
“At this time of year, every year, we get the staffing numbers ... I know people are frustrated and I’m frustrated,” she said.
She stressed that the cuts are not yet final as the elected board hasn’t voted on the budget.
With the art program she said it’s her understanding if the proposed cuts go ahead, regular classroom teachers will be expected to administer the art program.
Board chair Darren Googoo said the budget won’t be passed by the board until it receives its final funding numbers from the province, which he doesn’t expect to take place until after the May 30 provincial election.
“We’re making plans for the next school year based on proposed budgets … everything we’ve done so far is in draft form, subject to change, obviously, with money,” Googoo said. “We’re still going through those deliberations right now, nothing has been confirmed.
“Staff were advised that we’re in budget deliberations.”
He noted the board is continuing to experience enrolment decline and its budget will continue to shrink until that stabilizes or changes course.
When asked specifically about elementary art, Googoo said, “there’s still going to be art taught at the elementary level. I can’t really comment until we finalize our budget what exactly is going to happen there.”
Under the NSTU collective agreement, teachers are required to be given a certain amount of notice that they may not have a position in the next school year, she added.
Capstick noted that in recent years cuts to the board’s teaching staff have been made through attrition. This year, there are about 30 teachers expected to retire and, if past practice is any guide, they likely won’t be replaced, she said.
“Until the budget is finalized, and even then things can change … nothing is written in stone,” Capstick said.
She added that she’s concerned that when programs are cut it disproportionately affects the most vulnerable of students.
“It kind of flies in the face of what the province said that it was going to do to eliminate some of the wait times for testing and things like that,” she said.