QUALICUM – CUPE 3570 President Lisa Paine is calling on School District #69 (Qualicum) to review budget cuts and the layoff of 16 Education Assistants (EAs).
“What will the effect be for students next September?” asks Paine.
Paine is concerned that EAs are required to take on more and more students. On any given day, an EA in a high school could be working with 10 to 12 students. When they are not replaced, the already-heavy workload of other EAs is increased and supports for students are compromised.
“My fear is what’s going to happen when EAs have less and less time to spend with students. And EAs are concerned that they will not be able to provide the support their students need.”
There are currently about 110 EA positions in the Qualicum school district. A loss of 16 EAs is a 15-per-cent cut that leaves only 94 EAs in classrooms throughout the district.
Paine notes that it is normal for some EAs to receive layoff notices at the end of the school year, but in the past many have been recalled in September. Because of the large number of layoffs, she is concerned that the Board has focused too much on targeting EAs.
“It comes to that frontline worker who is expected to take on more and more,” said Paine. “How much more can an EA be expected to do in a day with more students?”
Paine is calling on the board to stop being complacent. “The Board must challenge the recommendation of senior administration and focus on the needs of students,” she says. “Instead of making all the cuts that will hurt education in our district, the Board must call for a full and fair review.”
As well as providing academic support to students, EAs support children with autism and other related disorders; provide support for physically-challenged students; provide signing or brailling supports for deaf and blind students; and assist with occupational and physical therapy.