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Published by the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation

Loss of retention workers program will have impact on vulnerable students

Posted: 05/30/17 10:24am CST
Photo credit: Beatriz Perez Moya

Cuts to funding in the provincial budget to school boards and school divisions will have a major impact on inner city schools, according to the president of the Central Urban Metis Federation Incorporated.

Shirley Isbister says the slash in funding to the Saskatoon Greater Catholic School Board means schools that rely on support and retention workers will be hurt the most. The board will be receiving $9.7 million less this budget year and will be eliminating some positions, such as retention workers at St. Michaels, St. Mary’s and St. Francis. In total, 12 people will be let go in the Greater Saskatoon School Division.

She says having those workers in place is important for students and their families.

“Losing that transitional worker who does so much to help get kids to school, and works with families to overcome barriers, so that the children can attend school, that really hits home,” she said.

Isibister added that the St. Michaels School was starting to incorporate some Michif language into the classroom. By eliminating the only fluent Michif speaking person, it would be a huge loss to the school.

She says the partnership that has been built between CUMFI and the Catholic School Board has been beneficial as attendance by inner Indigenous city students has been increasing over the last few years. She says that has been the case because of the work of the support and retention workers.

“I am very disappointed in the choice they (the provincial government) had to make because student success is what we are all about. On one hand, the government talks about the importance of education to Aboriginal people, but when we look at the outcome of a situation like this, who is going to pick up the pieces?” she added.

The funding shortfall for all school boards across the province was a result in a downturn in the resource sector.

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