Students in School District 70 (SD70) will soon benefit from more teacher hires and improved supports thanks to funding from the province.
After reaching an agreement with the BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF), the province has provided an interim settlement of $50 million to school districts in the province to begin hiring up to 1,100 teachers and improving student supports for the current school year.
The funding is a step towards the end of a legal battle between the government and the union that began in 2002, when then-education minister Christy Clark passed legislation that removed specialist teacher language, class composition and class size from the teachers’ contracts.
It is not yet determined how much funding will be allocated for SD70 but members of the Alberni District Teachers’ Union (ADTU) are happy with the announcement.
“We’re very, very pleased with the additional money to hire more teaching staff and this will certainly be helpful for students in SD70,” Ken Zydyk, ADTU president, said.
“I think it’s important to note this is a result of the BC Teachers’ Federation victory in the Supreme Court of Canada in early November. It’s not because the province felt like giving the money but it’s about respecting the court decision. This is also the first step in the process as the provincial parties work towards the full restoration of what was stripped from our collective agreement language in 2002.”
Zydyk said SD70 has many needs but feels the funding will assist with providing more support for children with diverse learning needs from Kindergarten through Grade 12. The union will work together with the school district to identify priority items and where funding is most needed.
“That gives us an opportunity to look closely at restoring some of those language provisions on class size and seeing if we need to alleviate some situations,” Zydyk said. “The next step is important. While we’re pleased with the province’s $50 million response…it’s very important that the province follow up on the full restoration of the language and put enough funds in the education budget that’s coming in February.”
Pam Craig, SD70 trustee board chair, said no specific guidance has been given from the province yet as to how much funding will be provided to SD70.
“The ministry makes their decisions and then informs the districts on that decision and we expect to get that quickly,” Craig said. “District staff and our union representatives are working to be ready when that money does arrive.”