BROCKVILLE, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - June 1, 2016) - On behalf of education workers at Upper Canada District School Board, Sue Hanson, president of Local 5678 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), has sent an open letter to UCDSB trustees in advance of tonight's board meeting in Brockville. At this meeting, it is anticipated that trustees will take decisions about recommended cuts to vital school services; CUPE is asking trustees to consider the impacts of these cuts before trustees take any action.

Open letter to UCDSB trustees from CUPE 5678

As education workers, the members of Local 5678 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) depend on the trustees of Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) to represent our school communities and to take decisions that will ensure students receive well supported, high-quality education in safe, clean and secure schools.

However, after considerable time spent examining the recommendations detailed in the revised preliminary deliberation report from the finance department of UCDSB, education workers believe that trustees are about to make important decisions in the absence of full and vital information about their impact on our system's students, schools and services.

CUPE education workers at UCDSB have serious questions and concerns, as yet unanswered, about the potential consequences of the report's recommendations. We believe that trustees should seek answers to the issues they raise before embarking on a path of budget and staff reductions that will deny children and schools the vital services they rely on.

The work of Educational Assistants is vital to students with special needs, yet there has been no impact assessment on the effects that the recommended cuts would have on children and the classroom. The last meeting of the board of trustees only determined that "some" hours for Educational Assistants would be cut, with no mention as to how these cuts would be determined or at which schools they would take place.

In putting together this report, the authors made no attempt to consult with CUPE education workers about the ways that cuts would affect children, schools and services. Certainly we would have been willing to outline the likely impacts of fewer staff working fewer hours and less oversight from fewer frontline workers. From our perspective, there is no doubt that cuts to jobs and hours for education workers have a negative effect on students, schools and services and that UCDSB can expect to pay "on the back end" with schools that provide fewer services and that are dirtier and less secure.

Finally, neither the report's authors nor the board's trustees appear to have considered whether the report's recommendations may be carried out under the terms of two recently signed collective agreements. UCDSB trustees should be aware that breaching the terms of these legally binding contracts could result in lengthy and costly processes that could well negate any cost-savings through the report's recommendations.

As education workers, parents and citizens, CUPE members recognize the financial constraints under which UCDSB operates. However, trustees have been presented with a three-year plan that they are seeking to implement in its entirety by September. This appears to be a rash and unreasonable approach that has the potential to cause considerable harm to students, families and staff. We urge trustees to proceed with caution and only when in possession of a full accounting of all the facts, consequences, and resulting costs.

Sue Hanson

President, CUPE 5678

Contact Information:

Sue Hanson
President, CUPE 5678

Mary Unan
CUPE Communications