RICHMOND, British Columbia — Protecting essential services on which students and families depend in the Richmond School District must be the priority when tackling budget deficits, says the union representing Richmond’s public school staff. CUPE 716 says the district budget should not be balanced at the expense of the workers and students they serve.
“Our top priority is to ensure that our students have clean and healthy schools where they can receive the education they need to thrive and succeed,” said Ian Hillman, a Richmond school counselor and president of CUPE 716. but some of the cuts that are chosen don’t put students’ needs first. There are other choices that cannot harm students.”
The current 2022/23 budget under consideration by School District #38 would result in the layoff of more than 15 school support staff who provide essential services to students not offered anywhere else. Proposed cuts would threaten student access to school libraries, especially during lunch hours. The cuts will also significantly reduce career information services that help students map out their future education to achieve lifelong career goals.
“Shouldn’t we encourage students who want to spend their time in libraries and give them every advantage in pursuing their goals and dreams? These services should be given priority. There are other choices,” Hillman says.
For example, Hillman points out that District Trustees gave themselves pay increases, senior board positions receive significant pay increases totaling $375,000 in the proposed budget, including a $70,000 increase for the highest-ranking board position in the district. The school district also has a $6.3 million rainy day fund that can be used for short-term budget relief to protect student services.
“We recognize that the school district is in a difficult position and we will continue to work with them to find long-term sustainable solutions. But cutting services that students depend on, and firing the dedicated employees who provide them, is shortsighted and ill-considered,” Hillman says. “We urge the school district to reconsider.”
CUPE 716 represents more than 1,100 school counselors in the Richmond School District and provides a wide range of services in the community’s 47 schools. CUPE is the largest public education union in the province, representing more than 30,000 school support workers in BC
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CUPE 716, President
CUPE . Communications Representative
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