Calgary Board of Education temporarily lays off 1,900 workers after money redirected to COVID-19

Alberta cuts $128M in K-12 education funding to boost COVID-19 response
WATCH: As many as 25,000 educational assistants and other support workers will be laid off as the Alberta government looks to boost its response to COVID-19. As Cami Kepke reports, teachers are concerned special needs students will be affected.

The Calgary Board of Education (CBE) has sent temporary layoff notices to 1,900 members of its staff.

In a statement on Thursday, the CBE’s chief superintendent of schools, Christopher Usih, said the layoffs are a result of a $21-million reduction in CBE’s budget by the provincial government due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

READ MORE: Alberta government redirects school funding into COVID-19 response; NDP calls move ‘unconscionable’

On March 28, the UCP announced it would redirect $128 million dollars of funding initially slotted for K-12 schools in the province into Alberta’s COVID-19 response, following the cancellation of all in-person classes on March 15.

The funding that’s being adjusted would have been used for transportation, substitute teachers and educational assistants, all of which is being reduced while in-person classes remain cancelled, a news release said.

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Usih said the CBE was able to reduce organizational costs due to the cancellation of classes, and delayed projects to help re-allocate funding and reduce the number of layoffs necessary in light of the reduced funding.

“These savings significantly reduced the number of temporary layoffs required by about 1,000 people,” Usih said.

“Retaining school-based staff that provide the most direct support for student learning — and that can continue to do so in a remote learning environment — was our priority.”

Usih also noted that those budget savings allowed the CBE to keep all 880 education assistants employed through to the end of June.

READ MORE: Alberta orders all classes cancelled, daycares closed as COVID-19 cases rise to 56 in the province

The CBE noted that 1,030 employees affected by the layoffs are part-time breakfast and lunch supervisors.

The remaining layoffs impacted several other positions, including part-time cleaners, library assistants and administrative support staff.

The last day of work for these staff members will be April 30.

Usih noted that all those who have been laid off will be able to apply for federal income assistance after the notice period ends.

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