Im­pacts of cuts

Op­po­si­tion high­lights how teach­ing cuts af­fect each school

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - PROVINCE - THE GUARDIAN twright@the­guardian.pe.ca

One by one, school by school, the Op­po­si­tion Tories asked Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Hal Perry to re­verse each P.E.I. school’s teach­ing cuts.

Work­ing from a list of teach­ing re­duc­tions it amassed from talk­ing to P.E.I. schools, Op­po­si­tion MLAs posed the same ques­tion over and over, go­ing down the list of each school af­fected by these cuts, ask­ing Perry to “con­firm to the teach­ers, stu­dents and par­ents” that the num­ber of teach­ing po­si­tions be­ing cut at each school will be re­versed.

Over and over, Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Hal Perry ex­plained that each school would have to sub­mit a re­quest to the school board ask­ing for a re­ver­sal of its teach­ing cuts to­gether with a ra­tio­nale for why these teach­ers should re­main.

“These po­si­tions are un­der re­view,” Perry said.

“Prin­ci­pals of all schools have an op­por­tu­nity now to sub­mit or ad­vo­cate on be­half of their schools to the board who will then send rec­om­men­da­tions to the depart­ment.”

Op­po­si­tion MLA James Ayl­ward said this process is tan­ta­mount to ask­ing prin­ci­pals to beg for these cuts to be re­versed.

“It’s won­der­ful that this ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter here is go­ing to give prin­ci­pals across this province the op­por­tu­nity to beg – to beg – to keep their staff po­si­tions in their schools to help ed­u­cate our stu­dents,” he said.

“It’s quite ob­vi­ous this is just a veiled at­tempt to make this is­sue go away un­til the leg­is­la­ture ceases for this ses­sion and they can do their messy work be­hind the scenes.”

The list of teach­ing re­duc­tions shows over 20 schools will be see­ing re­duc­tions. The big­gest re­duc­tions are at West­wood, Green­field, South­ern Kings and Char­lot­te­town Ru­ral – all with four or more po­si­tions be­ing lost. Op­po­si­tion Leader Steven My­ers says his cau­cus has been get­ting frus­trated with the “canned re­sponses” by the min­is­ter over the last week of ques­tions on teacher cuts.

That’s why they be­gan go­ing school by school, high­light­ing ex­actly how the re­duc­tions will af­fect each in­di­vid­ual school, he ex­plained.

“If a min­is­ter doesn’t want to share what the cuts ac­tu­ally were or if he doesn’t want to share with par­ents who would be im­pacted in their school, then we’ll tell them,” My­ers said.

He high­lighted Spring Park School in Char­lot­te­town, where par­ents have raised con­cerns about over­crowd­ing. The school was built to ac­com­mo­date 450 stu­dents, but is brim­ming with over 600. Nonethe­less, the school is sched­uled to lose 1.88 teach­ing po­si­tions.

“That’s re­ally con­cern­ing and Is­lan­ders should be con­cerned. It wor­ries me that this gov­ern­ment is try­ing to take ed­u­ca­tion down with death by a thou­sand cuts.”

Perry says the re­view process of­fers a chance for schools and school com­mu­ni­ties to work with gov­ern­ment on how best to sup­port Is­land stu­dents.

“It’s never too late to re­assess and re­view and that’s the op­por­tu­nity we’re now giv­ing to the prin­ci­pals and the school board.”

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