Peter Fullerton of NBTA says education system 'imploding'
New Brunswick Teachers' Association boss points to budget cuts and says government to blame for any declines
The president of the New Brunswick Teachers' Association says the education system is "close to imploding" because of financial cuts by the provincial government.
Finance Minister Roger Melanson announced a cut of 249 teaching positions in the 2015-16 budget and pointed to declining enrolment as the reason.
Peter Fullerton, the president of the New Brunswick Teachers' Association, said $25 million is being taken out of New Brunswick's classrooms and puts the number of teachers being cut at 302.
Fullerton also said the provincial government has set of target of cutting $111 million from education in 2016-17.
I believe the education system is close to imploding.- Peter Fullerton, NBTA
"All you have to do is the math," he said.
"If you take a look at $25 million and the cuts that have taken place this year, what is it going to mean for $111 million coming out of the education system?
"I believe the education system is close to imploding," said Fullerton.
"And I believe that parents, grandparents have to stand up and be counted here because this is going to be a tough time."
Fullerton said he expects to see losses in the areas of literacy and numeracy because of the teacher cuts.
"All of this has to sit right at the feet of government," he said.
"Any delays in the education system anywhere that we're dropping has to be laid solely at the feet of this government."
The reduction of 249 teachers amounts to about three per cent of the province's teachers' ranks.
At the time the cut was announced, the provincial government said enrolment had declined more than 20 per cent since 2000 without a corresponding decline in the number of teachers.
About 200 teachers retire annually and Melanson indicated the provincial government intended to achieve most of the reduction through attrition.
Fullerton said there are other ways to save money in education rather than cut the number of teachers and has made suggestions to the department.
"They're small savings, but all small savings add up," he said.
Fullerton said school district offices should be placed in schools rather than in rented office space, which he said is the case in some areas.
"We talk about buildings that are not fully utilized. Get the district offices into those buildings. Use the space," the union president said.
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