Catholic school board to cut 184 positions

Edmonton Catholic Schools may have to cut 184 positions to help make up a $9.6 million budget shortfall.
Board chairwoman Debbie Engel says the cuts will have an impact on class sizes. (CBC)

Edmonton Catholic Schools may have to cut 184 positions to help make up a $9.6 million budget shortfall according to a draft budget released Tuesday.

Ninety-seven full-time teaching positions are slated to be be cut; 63 support and 24 custodial positions make up the remaining job losses. 

The remaining shortfall will be made up taking $1.8 million from the district reserve fund and increasing rates the board charges for leasing buildings.

Trustees passed the draft budget Tuesday. The budget will be finalized and go before trustees for a vote on June 28.

"It's a very stressful budget and although we don't want to look at education as a business ... we are hemmed in by provincial funding," board chairwoman Debbie Engel said. "We only have so many dollars and we have to use them the best we can."

Boards across the province are dealing with cash-strapped budgets.

Last month, Edmonton Public Schools announced 229 teaching and 115 non-teaching positions would have to be cut to deal with a $14 million shortfall.

Although education received an additional 4.5 per cent for operating expenses in this year's provincial budget, most of the increase will cover a previously negotiated 4.54 per cent bump in teachers' salaries coming Sept. 1.

Engel said district officials tried to minimize the cuts that would have a direct impact on classrooms.

"But to say there is going to be no impact on class size is impossible because we're going to have less teachers and more students," she said.

The principal at St. Catherine's Elementary School, Dan Donnelly, will have to cut at least two positions. He worries the job losses will hurt special needs students and children from immigrant families who attend his school.

"There is going to be some time that will have to be taken away from them as far as the support they are given," he said. "Especially for our ESL [English as a Second Language] students."