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English School Board superintendent Cynthia Fleet
As the English Language School Board rolls out its cuts to teaching positions, nine schools are learning they won't have the Reading Recovery literacy program next year.
Superintendent Cynthia Fleet said Reading Recovery has requirements on the number of co-ordinators employed within a school district and the number of students assigned to each teacher.
"Our job is to ensure that we provide support to all of our students who are in need to the best of our ability within our limited resources."
But what the cuts mean is if the board doesn't meet the Reading Recovery requirements it isn't allowed to offer the program.
"That's my understanding from my previous assignments." Fleet said.
Reading Recovery is an intervention program for Grade 1 students that is provided to schools in P.E.I. through a non-profit organization and delivered by Island teachers.
Fleet said the minimum the school board can allocate to a school is 0.25 of a position, which means in order to meet the requirement from Reading Recovery that teacher would have to work with two students every day for 12 weeks.
Out of a class of 20 students, that would mean there would have to be six who are seriously struggling with reading in order to get "optimal" support for the program, Fleet said.
"We don't usually have that high a rate."
Fleet said the question then becomes how does the board support students who have difficulty reading and writing.
The board has a primary literacy intervention program (PLIP) that provides reading and writing interventions for students in Grade 2 and 3, she said.
"Some of those teachers now will support students in Grade 1 who do not have Reading Recovery but need specific support."
Although nine schools won't have the Reading Recovery program this year, there have been other times when it wasn't available everywhere, including in at least one school last year.
The schools that won't have Reading Recovery next year have Grade 1 classes ranging from two to 14 students.
Fleet said until every student meets or exceeds standards, the board can never provide enough support.
"We will always welcome additional support for our students but we need to be very strategic with how we're using the allocation that we have now."
P.E.I. Teachers' Federation president Gilles Arsenault said if the board is offering a program, it shouldn't matter if a student is in a bigger or smaller school.
"They should be able to offer the same high-quality programming in every one of our Island schools."