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Keep cuts away from the classroom — Coquitlam teachers, CUPE

The crowd at Tuesday
The crowd at Tuesday's meeting on the Coquitlam district budget.
— image credit: DIANE STRANDBERG/THE TRI-CITY NEWS

The Coquitlam Teachers’ Association and CUPE Local 561 are calling on School District 43 to cut management positions and administrative costs rather than the jobs of teachers and support staff who work with students.

Both CTA president Charley King and Local 561 president Dave Ginter say more should be done to keep cuts away from the classroom; they disagree with proposals for SD43 to hire a communications manager and dispute the planned hiring of a cafeteria manager, both of which were proposed at Tuesday’s board of education budget meeting.

According to SD43, management staffing in the district is already below the provincial average but Ginter and King disagree with the district’s plans.

“I hope their values are services to kids and specifically service to vulnerable kids,” said King.

Ginter, meanwhile, said the district should work harder to bring down lawyers’ fees for grievances sent to arbitration, pegged at about $126,000 last year according to the district’s figures, and should not make any new management hires.

“They have a proposed $351,000 to bring back excluded jobs and there’s nobody going from the board office as usual,” Ginter said, adding that to fund the posts, teaching assistants who work 10 to 14 hours a week will lose their jobs.

He also takes issue with the district’s decision to include a $900,000 contingency in the budget, arguing the time to save for a rainy day is during good financial times. As well, Ginter said he’s worried about a plan to increase the deductible and reduce the benefits of retired CUPE workers and excluded staff; the district hopes to save $1.6 million by boosting the share of the deductible retirees pay to $21 a month and making changes to benefit coverage, for another $8 a month.

“It’s going to be quite a shock to them and their benefits are going to be watered down and this is a time when  you need them,” Ginter said.

WHAT THEY SAID

“All Metro Vancouver boards are posting large deficits and trying to find dollars in a stagnant funding formula. How can you stand there and tell me we are not underfunded?”

Melissa Hyndes, board chair

“When I look at the list I think every school, every level every partner group has been impacted significantly. I don’t think I could say middle school is taking the bigger hit.”

Rob Foot, principal of Scott Creek middle school and president of the Coquitlam Principals’ and Vice-Principals’ Association

“I think we need to look at that as we move forward and make sure while we protect school districts that are declining, it’s not at the cost of districts that are growing or staying steady,.”

Douglas Horne, Coquitlam-Burke Mt. MLA

“It’s going to be tough but I know that, working together, we can get to the bottom of this and resolve their financial challenges.”

Linda Reimer, Port Moody-Coquitlam MLA

 

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