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Pasadena Elementary school council chairperson says student assistant allocation to be cut

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It has not been officially announced, but Hal Cormier doesn’t want to wait around to let parents know about alleged upcoming cuts to student assistant allocations in the province.

Cormier, chairperson of the school council at Pasadena Elementary School, took to social media Thursday morning to post he has learned the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District plans to reduce student assistants by 33 per cent in the fall.

While he has concerns about how it will affect every school in the province, Cormier, who is also a town councillor, is frustrated with the impact at Pasadena Elementary. The school currently has an allocation of six student assistants, so cutting it by one-third would mean a loss of two positions.

"I know there is an increase in student needs that are coming into the school,” Cormier said in an interview later Thursday. “With the decrease of student assistants, how in the name of god can children in our community get a better education? Education is going backwards.”

The provincial government has said it will be adding teacher assistants. Cormier said not only are they not the same as student assistants, Pasadena Elementary is too small of a school to qualify for teacher assistants anyway.

“If we lose student assistants and we don’t have teacher assistance, our support requirements go up and the security of our school goes down,” said Cormier.

Cormier had not approached the school district with his concerns when he was interviewed. He said he didn’t plan to either. Rather, he wanted to get the word out to the public immediately.

He encouraged anyone who shares his concerns to ask their elected representatives about how it might affect their school.

The Western Star asked the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District on Thursday to confirm the cuts Cormier is alleging will happen and for an interview about the issue. No interview was granted and an emailed reply from the district with no specific reference to Pasadena Elementary neither confirmed nor denied any cuts were imminent.

The emailed reply stated the district provides schools with preliminary numbers for student assistants at the end of the school year in anticipation for the next. From year to year, the prepared statement continued, needs within the school system can change and allocations will be reviewed and adjusted as necessary once enrolments are confirmed in the new school year.

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