EDMONTON – The Edmonton Catholic School District has conceded in a news release published yesterday that AUPE’s concerns about staffing levels at its facilities are warranted.
More than 125 AUPE members took part in an information picket during the Catholic School Board’s regular meeting yesterday evening to urge the board not to lay off any more custodial or maintenance staff, as well as to ask them to reinstate custodians laid off in the past.
“It’s important that the board has admitted our members’ concerns are justified,” said AUPE President Dan MacLennan, who attended the Monday night information picket at the district’s administration building, at 9807 – 106th Street in Edmonton.
“However, despite the board’s explanation of the financial reasons behind the layoffs of custodial and maintenance staff, our members continue to have serious questions about how budget allocations are determined by the board,” he said.
In its news release, the school district conceded that there has been a reduction of 36 support positions over the past year and a half through layoffs and attrition. The board blames the level of provincial funding for the reductions.
As a result of the staff reductions, the board admitted, “maintenance is being deferred, level of cleanliness in schools is being reduced, energy management initiatives are being put on hold.”
In a letter yesterday to AUPE local 071/013, the Edmonton Catholic teachers’ local of the Alberta Teachers Association expressed support for AUPE’s members.
“The Edmonton Catholic teachers share your concern and fully support your membership’s attempt to bring attention to the issue of the downgrading of custodial service at Edmonton Catholic Schools,” said Shannon McElroy, President of ATA Local 54.
“We are concerned about the health and safety of our students and ourselves as we watch conditions in our working environment deteriorate,” McElroy said. “Further, we understand and are sympathetic toward the plight of the custodians as they attempt to maintain an overall healthy environment in our schools while being required to work under often frustrating and difficult circumstances.
“Please note that we raised concerns of student and teacher health and safety at the Employee Relations meeting of April 20, 2005, and were advised … that teachers would have to lower their expectations regarding cleanliness in the school,” she said. “We indicated this was not acceptable.”
AUPE Local 071/013 members have reported they are allocated approximately five minutes to clean each classroom.
AUPE has called on the Edmonton Catholic School District to consider the cleanliness of schools, the health of children who attend them and the wellbeing of the board’s plant operations and maintenance employees when drafting its operational budgets.