A Saskatoon family is shocked that English as Additional Language (EAL) teachers at Saskatoon Public Schools may be cut.

Thomas Tran, 12, and his family moved to Saskatoon from Vietnam last year, speaking little English.

Over the year, Tran said his English greatly improved, crediting his EAL classes he takes at school.

“It helped me to remember new words and I can pronounce more words and it helped me to speak better,” he said.

On Monday Saskatoon Public Schools announced each school has to cut its budget by an average of six per cent to make up for a $5 million budget shortfall. On the chopping block are 15 EAL teachers.

“If there is no EAL class, I don’t know how they can survive the classroom,” said Nhung Ha, Tran’s mother.

Saskatoon Open Door Society executive director Ali Abukar said cutting EAL teachers is counterproductive as Saskatchewan relies on immigrants for population and economic growth.

“We invited these people to come to our country to meet [labour and population needs], then we need to make sure that we have enough supports in place for people to be successful,” he said.

However, he said he is optimistic the school division will be able to fill the gap.

In an e-mail to CTV News, Saskatoon Public Schools said it “will be looking at how operations need to be adapted to best meet students’ needs with fewer resources.”

It also said the cuts are not yet final and need to be approved by the Board of Trustees.