News / Edmonton

Edmonton school trustees approve 2013-14 budget that axes hundreds of jobs

Edmonton Public School Board trustees have approved a $934 million budget that will see dozens of teachers, education assistants, custodians, maintenance and support staff lose their jobs.

The 2013-14 budget, which was unanimously passed by trustees late Tuesday afternoon at a board meeting, chops 339 full-time jobs.

The axed jobs consist of 182 teaching positions and 157 non-teaching positions.

“I have to say that I really ache for all the staff who are facing layoffs.”-EPSB trustee Catherine Ripley

NDP education critic Deron Bilous, a former teacher and the MLA for Edmonton-Beverly Clareview, said the staff cuts mean classroom sizes will go up.

“The impact of this is significant, not just in the interim and the near future, but for the long term,” he said. “Classroom sizes, classroom numbers are going to go up … This is going to negatively affect students, families everywhere.”

Before the budget was passed at Tuesday’s meeting, EPSB superintendent Edgar Schmidt called it challenging.

“There are many aspects of this year’s budget process that have not been pleasing, to say the least,” he said.

Prior to voting to approve the budget, several trustees called the layoffs “sad.”

“I have to say that I really ache for all the staff who are facing layoffs, or an unwanted or unexpected change in the work that they currently love,” said trustee Catherine Ripley.

EPSB chair Sarah Hoffman, meanwhile, repeated a statement she has said since the provincial government announced funding reductions in March.

“We will have to do less with less."

The layoffs come as the board is expecting a 1,200 student rise in enrollment.

Following the approval of the budget, Hoffman said while the majority of staff cuts have been focused outside of school operations, it's not good news.

“That is going to be challenging for all of us, but we’ll do our best to pick up the pieces and protect kids and move forward as best we can,” she said.

Before the budget was approved, trustees debated a motion to retain two full-time positions to support student health and wellness. The recommendation was ultimately defeated.

By the numbers

  • A 2013-14 budget of $934,062,591 was approved by the Edmonton Public School Board at a meeting on Tuesday afternoon.
  • It is expected the 339 full-time staff reductions will come through resignations, retirements and layoffs of contract teachers.

More on Metronews.ca