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PWPSD makes moves to keep Educational Assistants working

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Peace Wapiti Public School Division has found a way to keep its Educational Assistants on staff for the time being. Superintendent Bob Stewart says the board was able to find the funds to keep existing contracts for its EAs, library, and office support staff group while there is still work for them.

“With our regular annual budgeted costs for substitute teachers and substitute EAs not being used during the indefinite cancellation of classes, along with further reductions to administrative costs, and schools returning a portion of their site operating budgets that would normally be spent on student resources when regular classes are in session.”

The provincial government confirmed at the end of March that it would not be providing funding for EAs, substitute teachers, bussing, and other services while students are out of school. That meant a 14 per cent cut to PWPSD’s Base Instructional Grant for May and June.

It also dropped the school division’s transportation grant by 51 per cent. The board can’t cover that amount and has started to issue temporary layoff notices to its bus drivers.

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“We are dismayed by this latest development, and it saddens us greatly to have to make any changes to our staffing during this difficult time,” says Chair Kari Scheers. “We are proud of the dedication and loyalty of our bus drivers. We want them to know that a reduction in provincial funding does not change who they are in our organization.”

PWPSD employs 103 permanent school bus drivers. It will continue their medical benefits while they are laid off and through the summer months. Home deliveries of course packages to families with limited access to technology have also ended.

Both grants are expected to be reinstated once in-person classes start back up again. The grant for school maintenance is being maintained.

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