Red Deer Public Schools to lay off support staff June 1

Educational assistants at Red Deer Public Schools will be laid off June 1.

This comes after the provincial government announced Saturday it was reducing funds to school divisions across the province.

In addition to the 258 Red Deer Public educational assistants being laid off, substitute teachers have no more assignments effective March 31, and services by the district’s busing contractor are suspended for the remainder of the school year.

Funding from the province to Red Deer Public has been reduced by $1.45 million.

The government is expected to reduce funding to Alberta school jurisdictions by a total of $128 million, which will be directed to support the province’s COVID-19 pandemic response.

“When classes were cancelled two weeks ago, the focus of all our staff shifted to continuity of learning and supporting our 11,000 students having to learn from home,” said board chair Nicole Buchanan.

“Red Deer Public understands that our province and nation are significantly impacted by the many challenges we are facing in 2020. We are keenly aware of the significant challenges that students, the families we serve and our community are facing.”

Superintendent Stu Henry said the district wanted to “support continuity of learning” as much as possible.

“Through overall cost savings through reduced operations within our schools and the division, we are now able to defer the layoffs to educational assistants until June 1, rather than May 1, as originally planned,” said Henry.

“This will allow us to use educational assistants to maintain our plans to support learning from home, particularly in these early stages. We can also provide targeted support to students with special needs.”

Decisions have been left to school boards to determine where the reductions are best made.

“We are still meeting our funding reductions announced by the government,” said Buchanan.

“Yes, these funding reductions are tough, but by respecting the local autonomy of school boards to make the best decisions, the government knows that we are in a far better place to make decisions that maximize student learning and have the least impact on students as well as staff.”



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