Francophone school district against cuts
Ernest Thibodeau says potential $5 million in savings not worth disruption
The head of New Brunswick's largest francophone school district is speaking against plans to reduce the number of districts in the province.
Ernest Thibodeau said he doesn't believe it will save the promised $5 million a year and that it would not be worth it even if it did.
He said cutting the number of school districts in half will hurt students.
The Alward government announced plans this week to reduce the number of school districts from 14 to seven. Education Minister Jody Carr said it would save $5 million annually.
He said it would save money and free up resources to serve children in the schools.
Thibodeau made headlines last spring when he refused to cut two per cent from School District 1's budget, as ordered by the province. He said it was impossible to do without harming classroom learning.
Not worth the savings
"To destabilize a whole system like this for $5 million? If you divide that between the seven school districts it's only about $700,000 per district, so to disturb the whole system just for that amount of money? It is stupid," he said.
Thibodeau said the province will still need the same number of teachers and principals, so the only savings will be from a few positions in each district office.
He said the idea of moving francophone schools in Oromocto and Fredericton into the Northwest district made no sense.
"Fredericton is closer to Saint John and Moncton, which are urban centres in New Brunswick with the same kind of environment where they are in a minority situation," he said.
Thibodeau said the changes would make school districts so large that he doubts busy parents will be interested in being members of the district education councils.
He for one won't be re-offering.
The new councils will start on July 1 and the boundaries will be used in the May 14 district education council elections.