School operations, support staff, labour relations get short end of stick under Liberal Government's school board grants

    TORONTO, March 19 /CNW Telbec/ - Today's education funding announcement
from the McGuinty government will continue to short-change school operations
and support staff, and do nothing to quell rising labour unrest, according to
the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario division.
    "With today's announcement, the educational formula introduced by the
Mike Harris government almost a decade ago continues to short-change the
so-called "non-classroom" areas of the school," said CUPE Ontario President
Sid Ryan about the General Legislative Grants for school boards announced by
the provincial government. "Funding for school operations, as a percentage of
overall funding, will decline to 9.36% in 2007-08 from 9.7% in 2005-06.
Today's announcement does virtually nothing to address the many improvements
to the funding formula that school support staff have been demanding."
    "This funding issue will mean continuing layoffs of custodial and
maintenance staff, resulting in school facilities that will remain dirtier,
and less safe and healthy than they should be," said Frank Ventresca, Chair of
CUPE's Ontario School Board Coordinating Committee (OSBCC). "Having met with
Education Minister Kathleen Wynne last fall, we are disappointed that they
ignored our recommendations to fix the funding formula."
    CUPE Ontario recommended that the Minister eliminate the $375 million
shortfall in school operations funding; restructure the funding formula so
that cleaning and maintenance is included in the school foundation grant;
provide funding to increase educational assistants' hours to seven per day
across the province; and address the exploding problem of school supervision
that is increasing workloads of Educational Assistants (EAs), school
secretaries and library staff.
    "While the government has allocated funds for equipment and technology
for high needs students, there is no mechanism in the grants to ensure that
special needs students will have the level of support from Educational
Assistants that they need," says Ryan. "One year ago, Educational Assistants
went on strike in the London area over poor working conditions that were
affecting their ability to meet the needs of special needs students. There is
nothing in these grants that addresses the concerns of these EAs."
    "It is incredible that the McGuinty Government can boast today about "the
government's efforts to ensure peace and stability in the classroom," said
Ryan. "Our members in Dufferin-Peel, who face staff cuts imposed by the
provincial supervisor, will find no relief in today's announcement. Nor will
our members in Durham who have a March 21 strike deadline because their
employer says they can't afford to make contract improvements. This
announcement brings no significant new funds to the Durham board."
    The CUPE Ontario School Board Committee has invited the Education
Minister to its annual conference next month, with the hope that Minister
Wynne will outline what the government has done, and plans to do, for
educational support staff.

For further information:

For further information: Sid Ryan President, CUPE Ontario, (416)
209-0066; Valerie Dugale, CUPE Communications, (647) 225-3685

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Canadian Union of Public Employees - Ontario Regional Office

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