The head of New Brunswick's largest francophone school district says making cuts to education budgets without hurting students is impossible.

Ernest Thibodeau, president of the School District 1 education council, disputes claims by the government that $9.9 million worth of cuts at the district level won't affect learning.  

Thibodeau said Tuesday there are no frills at the 15 schools he represents.

"Education should be a sacred cow. We should not cut education — it's the base of any society," he said.

Thibodeau said that trimming less than one per cent from the education budget will hurt students. For instance, he said, if teachers aren't trained in new curriculum, they won't be able to deliver it.

He also wanted to remind Education Minister Jody Carr that francophone school districts have a double mission.

Besides teaching the basics, Thibodeau said, the district is also working to attract students who have Acadian roots and to teach pre-schoolers from English speaking homes a new language.

"If we continue to decline, la francophonie in New Brunswick won't be there in a few generations," he said.  

School District 1 administers French-language schools in southeast New Brunswick, Fredericton and Saint John.  

Thibodeau said if the government insists that districts cut a further two per cent from next year's budget — it will mean cuts to teaching and support positions.

The government should raise income taxes, he said, before cutting education.