EDMONTON -- Edmonton Public Schools is cutting more than 600 full-time positions to deal with budget shortfalls.

The 611 layoffs are permanent.

The school board approved the 2020/21 budget at its meeting on Tuesday.

Funding from the province is frozen and student enrolment is expected to increase by 2.3 per cent, meaning tight budgets and tough decisions will have to continue.  

Board chair Trisha Estabrooks said these layoffs, paired with cuts to Program Unit Funding (PUF), will be particularly devastating for vulnerable students.

"When we think about supports that are needed for some of our most vulnerable kids, it's as if there's a double-whammy happening here," Estabrooks said. "Of greatest concern to me, and I know my colleagues would share this concern, is that a large portion of those layoffs, more than 400, are in fact our educational assistants."

The budget also asks each school in the division to cut four to eight per cent of its budget.

EPSB issued temporary layoff notices to 1,868 employees in April after the province cut education funding once in-person classes were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The board is expecting a total of around 107,000 students next year.