Parents concerned over Alberta education funding cuts
EDMONTON -- There’s more backlash after the province announced its cutting educational funding while kids aren’t in class.
A move parents of kids with special needs say, will leave them abandoned.
"They interact with you like they’d be family than anything," student Stephanie King said of her educational assistants.
Now studying at home with her mom, EAs have been helping the grade 12 student, who has autism and Tourette’s, so she can become an educational assistant herself. She’s worried about losing that support.
"Losing this EA actually gives me fear," said Stephanie’s mother Nancy.
Two weeks ago, the minister of education promised school associations would get their full funding, but on Saturday afternoon, in a press release, the minister backtracked, announcing cuts to school transportation, substitute teachers, and educational assistants as long kids aren’t in class.
The $128 million dollars will instead be reallocated to the COVID-19 response.
"I think it’s cold, I think it’s cruel, and I think it’s shameful and I think at a minimum the Minister owes these parents an explanation," said Sarah Hoffman, NDP Education Critic.
At a press conference Monday, the opposition shared stories of EAs and families who may be at a loss.
School boards are scrambling to make decisions and find savings at a time when they’re already scrambling to roll out online learning.
"The needs of students don’t lessen just because we’re in a pandemic. In fact, the needs of students likely are increasing," said Edmonton Public Schools Trustee Trisha Estabrooks.
The Alberta Teachers association says about 25,000 positions will be affected and wants the government to reconsider.
"We have to make sure we don’t let any students fall through the cracks right now because it’s not their fault there’s a pandemic," said ATA President Jason Schilling.
"Teachers and other staff – such as speech language pathologists, occupational therapists, mental health workers, family school liaison workers and physiotherapists – will continue to provide specialized supports and services," a provincial spokesperson said in a statement.
But Stephanie King cares about her EAs.
"I mean it’s kind of like a support that’s going to be missing if that ever does happen," she said.
The province says funding for EAs will be reduced in May.