Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, about a month ago, I was informed about upcoming reductions to the school support staff for the next year in the Nahendeh riding.
Mr. Speaker, we are seeing an increase in the number of students who have complex needs. According to the information provided to me, we are above average compared to other regions. Unfortunately, the resources that the DDEC receives from the department do not recognize this fact. This is a huge concern for parents, DEA members, students, and myself.
In the Deh Cho region proper, we have nine schools spread out over eight communities. Some of our schools have small student populations. This provides the DDEC with challenges to provide the support that the other regions enjoy. When you look at the requirements, you need a teacher, a language specialist, and/or a classroom assistant.
To the department's credit, we have seen a program support teacher in each community. Unfortunately, this becomes unrealistic for our smaller communities. The DDEC has come up with a plan to combine a number of half-time positions into a travelling position for some of the smaller communities. This is a good step; however, this means each of the smaller communities only gets service one week per month.
This year, we are seeing a reduction to the DDEC. This means that the support staff in schools are being cut or reduced to part-time. I personally disagree with these cuts. These cuts will have a huge impact on wellness of the staff and students.
In some of the smaller communities, we are putting the teachers in an unsafe environment. Part of the day will see teachers being the only adult in the school with the students. Safety becomes a concern. What happens when a student gets hurt? What about the other students? Without proper support staff in place, the teachers end up supervising the students during the breaks all of the time. We could see teachers spending more time managing their class instead of teaching.
Mr. Speaker, the formula looks at the number of students in the region instead of the school's population individually. This ends up affecting the larger schools. I am happy that the department is recognizing the importance of paying the teachers at the level that they are on the pay grid. Unfortunately, it is not the same for superintendent, finance, and administration staff, who are UNW personnel. They are paid at the mid-point, but that doesn't take into account the staff that are long-term. Because of this, the DDEC has to come up with the difference. This means cuts to other staff and programs.
Due to this fact and students' enrolment, the divisional office has seen a reduction of staff from 14 to 8 staff since 2007. These are our support system for teachers and students.