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Two dozen school assistants receive lay-off notices in Moose Jaw

King George School in Moose Jaw, where Lisa Huff has a job until June 28. Prairie South School Division

REGINA – About two dozen school assistants in Moose Jaw received lay-off notices for the end of this school year.

School assistants are a position unique to Moose Jaw, and there are 27 in the division.

“It was [a reaction] of shock, but we have been in this position through the rumor mill a number of times,” Lisa Huff said. As of the lay-off notice Huff will be a school assistant at King George School until June 28.

“Our position has been looked at before for elimination, which is most unfortunate, but we were all not overly surprised but very saddened.”

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Huff added she’s worried about how the removal of the school assistant positions will affect teachers and families.

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Their primary duties include providing supervision during lunch hours and recess. However they do much more than that including clerical work and helping students who need an extra hand.

Huff said much of this help has recently involved the influx of Syrian refugee students.

The official reason the assistants were given is the division needs to “streamline” their operations.

“We’re going to have to realign some staff in the schools that are affected so we have the supervision in place in the fall,” Prairie South School Division director of education Tony Baldwin said.

“So we don’t know all the details, but it will be several hundred thousand dollars that we’re able to reallocate back into the classroom.”

Baldwin estimates the lay-offs will save the division about $400,000.

The lay-offs don’t necessarily mean the assistants are out of work. They have the option to move into another position, but due to the collective bargaining agreement, they only have 72 hours to decide.

“They could undertake the educational assistants, there’s also the custodian staff, and potentially or possibly concession workers, that kind of thing,” Huff explained.

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