Faced with cuts, school boards trim student services

By Janet Bagnall, Published June 7, 2013 by the Montreal Gazette

MONTREAL —  Like a stern headmistress, Education Minister Marie Malavoy warned the province’s school boards last December that on no account should they reduce direct services to students — even though she knew they were struggling to cope with $500 million in budget cuts.

The boards faced a limited number of choices: raise school taxes, never a popular move; find other places to cut; or go ahead and cut services to students, Johanne Pomerleau, president of the Fédération des professionnelles et professionnels de l’éducation du Québec, said on Friday. Unfortunately, the least palatable of the choices — cutting direct services to students — is precisely what some school boards have chosen to do, Pomerleau said

The federation recently surveyed a number of school boards to see what their plans are for the coming school year. Nine of the province’s 69 boards have already made, or will have made, cuts to specialized staff by August, the start of the 2013-14 school year, Pomerleau said. Specialized staff includes psychologists, speech therapists, social workers and guidance counsellors.

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