LAY­OFF NOTICES HANDED OUT

Gov­ern­ment blamed for fund­ing for­mula prob­lems

Cape Breton Post - - Front Page - BY NIKKI SUL­LI­VAN nicole­j­sul­li­van@icloud.com

Re­gional school board lays off 28 ed­u­ca­tional work­ers.

Twenty-eight local ed­u­ca­tion work­ers have been handed lay­off notices by the Cape Bre­ton-Vic­to­ria Re­gional School Board.

The lay­offs oc­curred last Wed­nes­day and come on the heels of news the elected board voted to in­crease their own wages. But Mary Jes­some, CUPE Local 5050 pres­i­dent, says it’s not the board’s fault.

“I don’t blame the Cape Bre­ton-Vic­to­ria Re­gional School Board,” says Jes­some. “I blame the gov­ern­ment. If they put a proper fund­ing for­mula in place, then we wouldn’t be in this mess all the time … the board can only work with what they have. It’s the gov­ern­ment that needs to fix this prob­lem and I hope peo­ple re­al­ize that on elec­tion day.”

Twenty-three of the lay­offs are be­lieved to be teach­ing as­sis­tants and the Post has con­firmed Bad­deck Academy and Har­bour­side Ele­men­tary are two school af­fected by the de­ci­sion. It’s a de­ci­sion Jes­some thinks will have neg­a­tive im­pli­ca­tions in the class­room.

“There is go­ing to be an ex­tra bur­den on the teach­ers … We’re maxed out now. Our work­load keeps get­ting higher and higher,” she ex­plained. “But it’s the gov­ern­ment. The gov­ern­ment is not pro­vid­ing the fund­ing needed to hire the sup­port and staff we need.”

There is a chance those lay­offs might not hap­pen. Dar­ren Goo­goo, chair of the CBRVSB, says those lay­offs are only pro­posed be­cause the board is work­ing with a draft bud­get.

“We have pre­pared a draft bud­get to meet the num­bers pre­sented to us by the depart­ment of ed­u­ca­tion,” he says.

The board is re­quired by law to have a bal­anced bud­get and once the board sub­mits the draft bud­get, the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment must ap­prove it be­fore mov­ing for­ward. Goo­goo says with the con­tin­u­ous de­cline in stu­dent en­roll­ment balanc­ing the bud­get given to them by the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment be­comes more chal­leng­ing ev­ery year.

“I have been on the board for 11 years and ev­ery year we have ex­pe­ri­enced a de­cline,” says Goo­goo who points out Cape Bre­ton isn’t the only area with a de­clin­ing school en­rol­ment.

“Only one or two schools in all of Nova Sco­tia have ex­pe­ri­enced in­creased stu­dent en­rol­ment. Oth­er­wise en­rol­ment is steady or de­clin­ing.

“What would help us in the long run would be sta­bi­liza­tion of stu­dent en­rol­ment. Then we could have the fund­ing needed.”

The tim­ing of the lay-offs comes the same week the board voted to in­crease the stipend of elected board mem­bers which Jes­some ad­mits makes the news harder to hear.

“I un­der­stand they haven’t had an in­crease in their stipend for many, many years. But it is a slap in the face to hear one day in the news that the elected board mem­bers got an in­crease in their stipend and the next day my mem­bers are be­ing laid off. So it is a bit­ter pill to swal­low.”

Along with the 23 teach­ing as­sis­tants given lay­off pa­pers were two sec­re­taries, two su­per­vi­sor clean­ers, one cleaner, one bus driver and one in­ven­tory clerk.

“I hope peo­ple stop and re­al­ize what this Lib­eral gov­ern­ment has done,” says Jes­some. “They are just not step­ping up to the plate with the prom­ises they made. They aren’t pro­vid­ing the fund­ing that is re­quired to al­low the board to con­tinue the level of staffing that is needed. And I hope peo­ple re­ally stop and think about who they are vot­ing for on elec­tion day.

“This is their op­por­tu­nity to make a change.”

NIKKI SUL­LI­VAN/CAPE BRE­TON POST

This was the scene out­side the Cape Bre­ton Vic­to­ria Re­gional School Board of­fices Fri­day.

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