English Language School Board drops Reading Recovery as part of reallocation that will see 2.5 fewer teachers at the school next year
© Guardian photo by Heather Taweel
Education Minister Alan McIsaac
A program meant to help children improve their literacy skills won’t be offered in Cardigan next year after the English Language School Board recently announced it was cutting it.
Cardigan Consolidated School sent a letter to parents Tuesday notifying them of the staffing allocation for the upcoming school year, which will see 2.5 fewer teachers and the Reading Recovery program dropped for 2014-2015.
Opposition Leader Steven Myers raised the issue during Tuesday’s question period and, in speaking to the media, he blamed Education Minister Alan McIsaac for the cut.
“It’s shameful that he would pull the plug on that, but he doesn’t seem the least bit ashamed by that,” Myers said.
Reading Recovery is an early intervention program meant to help children with literacy issues and is done outside of the regular classroom.
There are about 100 students who attend Cardigan Consolidated School from kindergarten to Grade 6.
The most recent class size figures the Education Department provided The Guardian were from September and they showed classes ranged in size from 10 to 23 students.
Those 23 students were in the Grade 6 class, although all of the class sizes may have changed throughout the year and could be different next year.
Along with the cuts to Reading Recovery and the teaching positions, the letter said Cardigan Consolidated School will no longer be able to offer single grades, which means there will be some combined classes.
The school’s website lists nine teaching staff, five specialists and five educational assistants.
In speaking to the media, McIsaac said he hadn’t been informed Reading Recovery was being cut anywhere,
but it was the English Language School Board’s decision.
“Reading Recovery is still a very, very important program in our system as is our assessments, as is our literacy coaches and the works.”
When asked if eliminating Reading Recovery in Cardigan concerned him, McIsaac said it doesn’t if the program isn’t needed there.
“Reading Recovery’s definitely not a program that’s being cut and the school board’s looking at the allotment of teachers at the present time.”
Those answers didn’t seem to satisfy Myers, who said it is McIsaac’s responsibility as education minister to deal with those issues and not the school board’s.
“That’s a joke.”
Myers said literacy is the most important thing students can learn in the primary grades because it’s necessary for learning other subjects.
“Reading is very important.”
With the latest cuts to a small, rural school, Myers said it was a case of the provincial government attacking rural P.E.I.
“It’s a death by a thousand cuts.”
When The Guardian contacted P.E.I. Home and School Federation president Peter Rukavina, he hadn’t heard about the cuts in Cardigan, but said he knew how beneficial the Reading Recovery program could be because his son went through it.
Rukavina said he didn’t know much about the changes in Cardigan so he didn’t want to prejudge the situation, but he also said access to important programs like Reading Recovery should be the same across the province.
“You would like to hope they’re available at all schools.”