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Education Minister Jody Carr said last week that his department's cuts to education councils will the least amount of impact on the classroom. ((CBC))

Education Minister Jody Carr is backing away from an earlier promise that the budget cutbacks aimed at school district would not affect classroom learning.

Finance Minister Blaine Higgs announced last fall that government departments had to trim one per cent from their budgets as the Progressive Conservatives tackled the ballooning provincial deficit.

The Department of Education was one of the first departments to reveal how it would meet the finance minister's plan as Carr announced cuts to travel and other departmental spending.

And when Carr announced his department would also cut about one per cent from district education council budgets, he said it could be done in a fashion that would have no impact on classroom education.

Lately, though, the education minister been hedging on that statement after the District 1 Education Council publicly clashed with Carr over the budget cuts.

"We need to get our debt under control with the least impact on the classroom and I believe we can do that," Carr said in an interview last week.

However, Carr's choice of words stands in contrast to his earlier statements when the Liberals questioned whether the cuts would hurt learning in the classroom.

"And I can guarantee you … and to the people of this House and the people of New Brunswick, there will be no cuts to classroom learning in the province of New Brunswick," Carr said in December.

The "least impact" acknowledges there is some impact on education.

Liberal MLA Hedard Albert, the opposition's education critic, said Carr's rhetorical shift proves his party was right all along.

"When we asked questions, he always told us, the Liberal party, we had our heads in the sand. I think his head is deeper in the sand," Albert said.

The Liberals have joined District 1, along with some other groups, that have sided with the council, saying they should be immune from the cuts.