More teachers coming for SD71
Last Thursday, the province and B.C. Teachers Federation announced an interim settlement to their long-running dispute over staffing levels – a $50 million fund to hire up to 1,100 teachers for the current school year.
In the Comox Valley, while the exact dollar figures have yet to be announced, the two sides are hopeful to have the new hires in place for the start of the next semester, Jan. 30.
“We are going to be bringing to the board some recommendations next week, and the key to that is to work with the Comox District Teachers Association and take a look how the best way is that we can use these dollars,” said School District 71 superintendent Dean Lindquist. “We are certainly going to have conversations with the CDTA to talk about how we can work together to figure out the best model to move this forward, make some recommendations to the board and then act on them.”
“We are hoping for the ability to improve teachers’ working conditions, which is going to improve learning conditions for students this year,” said CDTA president Nick Moore.
He added while it’s too early to know exactly who will be hired and where they will be placed, the secondary level is where additional instruction help is most needed. Both sides agree that it’s imperative to get the new hires in place as quickly as possible.
“Semester two starts Jan. 30 and it’s our expectation that we will have teachers hired and in place by then, at the secondary level, specifically, to help improve the workload of teachers, because right now in the Comox Valley, it is unsustainable – a teacher’s schedule is not sustainable,” said Moore.
“Our next school board meeting is not until the end of January but I want to have something to present to the trustees before then, because I want something in place for the second semester,” said Lindquist. “We have not got the exact numbers of money that we are going to get, but as soon as we know - we’ve been promised by early (this) week we will have those numbers and as soon as we get those numbers, we will sit down with the CDTA.”
B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Glen Hansman said the interim agreement means more teachers “in a matter of weeks,” but the union and the government will resume negotiations next week to restore the 2002 contract language upheld by the courts.
Moore iterated Hansman’s comments.
“The provincial government is putting out their budget Feb. 21,” said Moore. “It’s our expectation that the restored language will be fully funded in that budget, and we encourage everybody in the community to pressure their politicians to make sure that this is fully funded, so that more teachers can be hired to support students.”
–With files from Tom Fletcher