Layoffs hurt students

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Dear St. Albert Catholic School Parents,

I have been a proud St. Albert resident for 20 years. I am an instructor at King’s University, where I have taught drama and oral communication for the past 10 years.

I was dismayed to learn about the recent cuts of the St. Albert Catholic School educational assistants, and I thought it was important to bring this to your attention. Perhaps those who are parents of students with learning and behavioural challenges will be especially disturbed by this news.

On May 28, more than 25 Catholic EAs were given layoff notices. Sixteen fulltime positions were cut due to budget restraints. This severely impacts the quality of personal care that these students will receive. Educational Assistants are not just wheelchair pushers, or lunchroom supervisors. They are on the front lines, assisting with students’ personal care, helping on sports teams, volunteering at student council. They work one-on-one, assisting your children with classroom work; they take notes, read exams. They help with assignments given by the teachers. They are the cheerleaders, the encouragers and the advocates for your children.

Currently the St. Albert Catholic School Board is, in my opinion, “top-heavy.” With 6,200 students registered, the breakdown in administration is:

1 Superintendent

2 Assistant Superintendents

1 Associate Superintendent

1 District Principal

1 Treasury Position

In contrast, the St. Albert Public School Board has 7,000 students and is broken down in the following way:

1 Superintendent

1 Deputy Superintendent

1 Associate Superintendent

1 Finance Superintendent

I strongly believe that these Educational Assistants are providing an essential service to our children and their families. Having these educators working in our schools allows children with learning and behavioural challenges to be integrated into society, to feel as though they are part of the world in which they live. It also garners a better understanding and a deeper appreciation for the rest of the students of what it is like to live with these kinds of challenges. Without the assistance of our EAs, I believe we are leaving all of our children disadvantaged.

Please, parents, friends and family members. Join with me to let the school board know that we need our educational assistants back in the schools. Please don’t allow our children with challenges to lose their sense of belonging and independence.

Lori Mohacsy, St. Albert

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