Cuts at Sask Rivers continue to hurt students

PRINCE ALBERT: Support staff in the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division are facing a further reduction in hours. This comes on the heels of the recently announced closure of programs to support students with learning disabilities.

“The provincial cuts to education are hurting our children,” said John Kunard, president of CUPE Local 4195, which represents support workers in the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division. “Our students deserve better than program cuts and reductions in staffing time.”

Last year, the division reduced 1,000 hours for many support classifications, including social workers, office administration, language assistants, library technicians, cooks, and educational assistants. This matter is subject to an upcoming labour arbitration. This year sees further reductions for many classifications, including 12 month employees who are losing two months of work.

“Education support workers are already some of the lowest paid public servants. With a reduction in hours and talk of a 3.5 per cent wage rollback, our members are struggling to make ends meet. Many have to look for second and third jobs.

“Less days of work a year may not seem like much, but for our educational assistants it means less time to prepare for students and less time meeting with teachers to prepare individualized learning plans to meet unique student needs. For librarians, it means no more extra activities like book fairs. It means corners are getting cut for the sake of the bottom line. Our students deserve better,” said Kunard.

The provincial budget cuts $54 million from school divisions’ operating funding – a cut of 2.6 per cent over last year. At the same time, revenues from education property taxes have increased by $67 million, but these revenues are going directly to the government’s general revenue fund and not to school divisions.

CUPE is calling for a restoration of funding for education. CUPE Local 4195 will be hosting a barbeque and a rally on May 18. Stay tuned for more information.

Passing of Bill 63 a sad day for education in Saskatchewan, say CUPE education workers

REGINA: The Government of Saskatchewan has passed Bill 63, which amends The Education Act to give the Minister of Education more power and reduce the autonomy of school divisions.

“This government has shown little respect for our children’s education and for the voices of communities and local officials,” says Jackie Christianson, chair of CUPE Saskatchewan’s Education Workers’ Steering Committee. “Bill 63 will decrease transparency and accountability and concentrate power into the hands of the Minister of Education.”

CUPE was just one of the organizations expressing concern about Bill 63. Thousands of people joined rallies about this issue and wrote letters to their MLAs.

“The lack of public consultation around this bill has been appalling, and the government did not listen to the many, many concerns that were raised by the public,” said Christianson. “From bus routes to what kind of toilet paper divisions buy, the Ministry of Education now has complete control of our children’s education and the ability to ignore our locally elected school board trustees thus eliminating the voices of parents and the community.”

Bill 63 comes on the heels of a provincial budget cut of $54 million from school divisions’ operating funds and demands that the divisions roll back workers’ wages by 3.5 per cent.

“The provincial government is forcing school divisions to make tough decisions, with many divisions having no choice but to look at layoffs and programs cuts,” said Christianson. “It is clear that the Sask Party plan for education is leaving our children behind.”

CUPE Education Workers’ Steering Committee launches new radio ad campaign

CUPE education workers have launched a new radio ad campaign to voice their concerns about the Sask Party’s cuts to education and Bill 63 – a new piece of legislation that removes power from school divisions and concentrates it in the hands of the Ministry of Education.

The ads are running across the province over the next week prior to the final vote on both the budget and Bill 63.

You can listen to the ads here:

CUPE is encouraging concerned citizens to contact their MLA as these changes will affect Saskatchewan students. You can learn more and take action at www.wheresthefunding.ca.

Speak up for Saskatchewan’s education system

The Saskatchewan government’s plan for K-12 education is harmful to our children and our schools.

In April, the Government of Saskatchewan introduced Bill 63, which amends The Education Act to give the Minister of Education more power and reduce the autonomy of school divisions.

This bill effectively removes the ability of locally elected school boards and educators to make decisions about education, and it places all decision making power in the hands of the Ministry of Education.

This legislation flies in the face of the public response to Perrins’ report, which saw overwhelming support for the idea of locally elected trustee decision making.

This bill comes on the heels of a provincial budget cut of $54 million from school divisions’ operating funds and demands that the divisions roll back workers’ wages by 3.5 per cent.

The provincial government is forcing school divisions to make tough decisions. Many divisions have no choice but to consider layoffs and programs cuts.

A decrease in support staff will diminish the quality of education for all students.  Students who require additional support will struggle in school if they don’t have access to the support.

It is clear that the Sask Party plan for education is leaving our children behind. Please send a letter to your MLA and the Minister of Education, Don Morgan, today.

Take action today by sending a letter here: www.wheresthefunding.ca

Ministry of Education’s wage mandate unfair

REGINA: CUPE, the union that represents the majority of education support workers in the province, is ready to fight the Ministry of Education’s mandate to roll back wages for education workers by 3.5 per cent with a three year freeze.

“The government is punishing the poorest workers while ignoring the basic principles of labour relations, which is that we reach a negotiated collective agreement at the bargaining table,” said Tom Graham, president of CUPE Saskatchewan. “This is an assault on our rights to collectively bargain under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and flies in the face of current labour law. The premier and his government need to know that CUPE will vigorously demand our members’ rights and their collective agreements as well as fight for adequate funding to the K-12 education system.”

Support workers in the education system are some of the lowest paid public servants. The average wage for CUPE members in education is $22,000 a year. The government mandate represents a 9.5 per cent reduction in spending power for workers over three years.

“A 3.5 per cent rollback with three years of freezes means that many members will be below the poverty line,” said Jackie Christianson, chair of the CUPE Education Workers’ Steering Committee. “Many members are already struggling to make ends meet before this budget’s increase to the PST. Any rollback in wages or hours of work will hurt the working families of Saskatchewan.”

The wage mandate comes on top of a $54.2 million reduction in K-12 education funding from the provincial government and significant changes to The Education Act, which take away autonomy from locally elected school boards.

“Many school divisions are being forced to cut important programming and reduce staffing levels. This government’s budget is hurting our children, especially as programs and staffing for students with enhanced needs seem to be the first to be cut,” said Christianson.

“This government needs to step up to the plate and properly fund our education system. Investing in our children is investing in the future of this province,” said Christianson. “If you are concerned about the impacts this budget will have on children, please contact the premier and your MLA.”

CUPE represents over 7,000 education support workers in 25 locals in 20 school divisions. Each local negotiates its collective agreement with its school division, and many contracts are currently up for negotiations.

Education workers from across the province will be gathering at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, April 12 at the Legislative Building in Regina to join parents to protest cuts to education.

Provincial budget means big cuts and tough decisions for school divisions, says CUPE

REGINA: The provincial cuts to K-12 education are larger than expected, and CUPE education workers are worried about how the cuts will impact children in Saskatchewan.

The 2017-2018 Saskatchewan budget, released on March 22, cut operating funding to school divisions by 2.6 per cent on a school year basis. Twenty-seven out of 28 school divisions are facing cuts between 2.6 and 8 per cent. The total funding reduction for the K-12 sector is $54.2 million, which assumes a 3.5 per cent roll back of wages across the board. Wages are still subject to collective agreements, and any changes must be negotiated at the bargaining table.

“Budget cuts have real consequences for children. Our K-12 education system has already faced years of inadequate funding. Programs have been cut, schools are falling into disrepair, and some divisions have already had to lay off staff. And instead of properly investing in our children and their education, the provincial government has chosen to cut funding,” said Jackie Christianson, chair of the CUPE Saskatchewan Education Workers’ Steering Committee. “The largest cuts in the education budget are to frontline staff such as teachers and support workers! The ripple effect of this devastating budget will hurt many.”

Education support workers are already among the lower paid public servants, working for only ten months a year with limited hours.

“Many education support workers are already struggling to make ends meet. A 3.5 per cent roll back will put many CUPE members under the poverty line,” said Christianson. “Our members are worried about their future. They are worried about layoffs. And they are worried about what less support in the classroom will mean for children.”

Many school boards are dealing with increased enrolment and more complex student needs, including an influx of new immigrant students who have English as an additional language need. Vulnerable students need an increased number of dedicated educational assistants, not fewer, to successfully integrate into the school system.

“There is simply no way you can slash the number of staff dealing with special needs students, slash the numbers of workers keeping our schools clean and safe and running smoothly, and expect the same quality of education for our kids,” said Christianson. “Our children, especially children with diverse needs, have the right to a quality education. The government is taking that away from them with this budget.”

CUPE is also concerned about the proposed changes to The Education Act proposed in the budget, which grant unprecedented power to the Ministry of Education. The act grants the government additional powers and authority to issue directives to boards and the expenditure of capital and operating funding provided by government. Such directives concerning sector efficiencies will have an impact on school division operational funding and, in turn, their 2017-2018 budget. In addition, it is concerning that school divisions are no longer able to make democratic decisions on how to use their funding reserves.

“The government said they listened to the public and kept the elected school board trustees, but everyone should read the fine print to the amendment of The Education Act. It is troubling that the government is moving towards absolute power over schools, staff, and students’ learning,” added Christianson.

“If you care about our children’s rights to a quality education, I urge you to stand up, take action, and stop Brad Wall from gutting our education system. Our children are not Toyota car parts on an assembly; keep LEAN out of our schools.”

CUPE is urging its members and concerned citizens to contact their MLAs and demand they take a stand against this budget. You can learn more at www.wheresthefunding.ca.

CUPE Education Workers’ Steering Committee launches radio ad campaign

CUPE education workers have launched a new radio ad campaign to voice their concerns about the Sask Party’s plan for the education sector.

The ads are running across the province the week before the provincial budget on March 22.

The provincial budget is expected to introduce significant changes to the education sector, including amalgamations, a decrease in funding, a 3.5 per cent wage rollback for staff, and the possible removal of elected school board trustees.

You can listen to the ads here:

CUPE is encouraging concerned citizens to contact their MLA as these changes will affect Saskatchewan students. You can learn more and take action at www.wheresthefunding.ca.

 

 

CUPE concerned that the rushed review of the K-12 education system will hurt students and workers

REGINA: The public comment period to the advisory panel on education reform has ended, but CUPE vows to keep voicing its concerns about the proposed restructuring.

“Frontline workers, who have already had hours reduced because of government funding cuts, are concerned that restructuring will remove community accountability, create unstable labour relations, and most importantly, lower the quality of education for students,” said Tom Graham, president of CUPE Saskatchewan. “CUPE supports the status quo of maintaining the existing 28 elected school divisions. Perrins’ report has not provided any evidence or rationale for further amalgamations.”

The Government of Saskatchewan tasked a six person advisory panel to review the recommendations of Perrins’ report and set a course of substantial change to K-12 education in a matter of weeks. Many of the options presented in Perrins’ report will drastically reduce the number of school boards and replace democratically elected and accountable school boards with government appointees who will be accountable only to government.

“The goal of ‘transformational change’ in education should not focus on cost savings but on improving the delivery and quality of education to children, their families, and communities. Education is a public good and fundamental for a democratic society,” said Jackie Christianson, an education assistant and chairperson of CUPE Saskatchewan’s Education Workers’ Steering Committee. “The interests of children are best served with school boards that are democratically elected and accountable to communities.”

CUPE is also concerned that the consultation process to date has been inadequate.

“The consultation process has been rushed, and to date has not offered any meaningful opportunities for parents, teachers, support staff, students, or community members to engage,” said Graham. “Additionally, the report is silent on labour relations issues.  With many of our locals about to engage in collective bargaining, this process creates significant uncertainty around what the workplace will look like in the future.

“As residents of this province, we should all be concerned about what the proposed sweeping changes will mean for our children,” added Graham. “Any restructuring will create massive disruption to our education system. Ultimately, children and parents will lose education support in the schools and access to their democratically elected trustee.”

CUPE represents 7,000 support workers in 20 school divisions in Saskatchewan, including education assistants, facility operators, administrative assistants, clerical assistants, secretaries, school bus drivers, caretakers, maintenance workers, library assistants, nutrition coordinators, information technicians, social workers, counsellors, community school coordinators, interpreters, speech and language assistants, and other school support workers.

You can read CUPE’s full submission in the attached PDF document.

CUPE will be presenting this brief in person to the advisory committee on Wednesday, January 25, 2017.

Submission_Final_K-12 Education_Governance_Review_2017_01_23

 

 

Rushed review of K-12 education system misguided

REGINA- The announcement of a rushed one-month review of Saskatchewan’s K – 12 education system is another misguided step in the provincial government’s so-called transformational change agenda, according to CUPE.

“We don’t need a rushed review looking for pocket change because of the provincial government’s growing deficit. We need education support workers and resources for our children to receive the quality education they deserve,” said Tom Graham, President of CUPE Saskatchewan.

Education Minister Don Morgan announced that the review will look to reduce and amalgamate school divisions and may even fundamentally remove the democratic system of elected school board trustees in favour of appointees.

“The Minister appears to be relying on anecdotes to justify a misguided overhaul of the education system instead of doing the homework,” says Graham. “There is no evidence amalgamations would achieve any cost savings, and clearly the government hasn’t learned from its past mistakes of failing to properly consult with those they will affect with their decisions.”

School divisions, receiving the bulk of their funding from provincial operating grants, have already felt a squeeze in finances with some divisions resorting to significant layoffs and reduced hours of education support workers. Moreover, some school divisions have been using reserve funds to make up for a funding shortfall and to offset cuts, which the Education Minister has made clear will come to an end. CUPE is concerned the K-12 education system review will only further the cuts to frontline support for students.

“If the government is looking for savings, they should review their costly P3 school scheme agenda which has been proven in every other jurisdiction to be a costly mistake.”

Education workers gather in North Battleford to talk about issues in K-12 sector

NORTH BATTLEFORD: Education workers from around the province will be gathering in North Battleford for the annual CUPE Education Workers’ Steering Committee Conference to discuss some of the urgent issues in the education sector.

Over 50 people will participate in three days of discussions on a variety of topics, including funding cuts in education, workplace health and safety, and trends in bargaining.

“Investing in our children is investing in the future of Saskatchewan. But the current trends in education funding paint a troubling picture,” said Jackie Christianson, president of the CUPE Saskatchewan Education Workers’ Steering Committee. “This conference will provide an opportunity to hear about the impact cuts are having on our children and to hear about a range of issues facing education support workers.”

WHEN: October 13 to 15, 2016

WHERE: Gold Eagle Lodge, 12004 Railway Ave. E., North Battleford, Saskatchewan

Conference Highlights:

  • Ian Hamilton, Mayor of North Battleford (Thursday, 1:00 p.m.)
  • Mark Hancock, CUPE national president (Thursday, 1:00 p.m.)
  • Patrick Maze, Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation president (Thursday, 1:00 p.m.)
  • Darren McKee, Saskatchewan School Boards Association executive director (Friday, 9:00 a.m.)
  • Carla Beck, NDP education critic (Friday, 9:15 a.m.)
  • Provincial overview of funding cuts and impacts (Friday, 10:45 a.m.)
  • Tom Graham, CUPE Saskatchewan president (Saturday, 9:30 a.m.)

CUPE represents 7,000 support workers in pre-K-12 education in Saskatchewan, including educational assistants, facility operators, administrative assistants, clerical assistants, secretaries, school bus drivers, caretakers, maintenance workers, library assistants, nutrition coordinators, information technicians, social workers, counsellors, community school coordinators, interpreters, speech and language assistants, and other school support workers.