Anna Allard, an educational assistant with 20 years seniority whose job looks to have been cut, questioned the rationale behind the cuts.The EA's statement confuses me. In this board particularly, there should be no challenge with the JK-3 primary class size cap. If anything, most cohorts are naturally small enough that fewer than 20 children are registering in JK/SK anyway. The largest the class could get is 23, but most if not all, I would say, are under 20. The Ministry of Education's own class-size tracker reports they are compliant with the regulation (you may have to select the board after clicking through). These are the same sort of EA positions that have come under the gun at the Toronto boards in recent years, which is probably the other board referred to in the article.
"I think it kind of blindsided us," said Allard, a member of CUPE Local 4148.
Allard said she sees "big time," safety concerns with the removal of assistants from large junior kindergarten classrooms which often include children who are three years old.
Stadnyk said the decision to cut the assistants was made with the assistance of an outside consultant, hired to assist in the budget process.
"It wasn't just a heartless attack on that expenditure, it was trying to look at all of our expenditures and make sure we have the essentials in terms of the classrooms," said Stadnyk. He said it is possible the board will revisit the decision, but he pointed out H-SCDSB is one of probably two boards in the province that still has early years educational assistants.
These positions are no longer funded under the 'grants for student needs' and as such should be seen as gravy compared to those boards who staff and program as closely to the grants as possible and feasible.