One year later: How has the 2016 Supreme Court decision affected Comox Valley schools?

It’s been just over a year since the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in favour of the British Columbia Teachers Federation (BCTF) in its longstanding court battle with the provincial government.

Delivered on Nov. 10, 2016, the Supreme Court’s ruling reinstated language into the BCTF’s collective agreement on class size limits and composition requirements — something that was taken away in 2002.

Teachers’ associations throughout B.C. celebrated the decision, which came after 16 years of steady cuts and funding shortages to school boards.

As a result of the landmark ruling, the provincial government reached an agreement with the BCTF in January 2017 to provide B.C.’s 60 school districts with an extra $50 million to hire more teachers for 2017–18.

But other than an influx of more than 60 teachers this year, how has the court decision affected schools in the Comox Valley?

Read More: Provincial teacher shortage will not affect Comox Valley schools

Nick Moore, the president of the Comox District Teachers’ Association (CDTA), says the Comox Valley’s schools have seen many positive impacts since the court decision. He cited smaller class sizes, a reduction in workload for secondary teachers, eight new teacher-librarian positions and millions more in funding than previous years.

Moore says the biggest issue the district has encountered since the court ruling is physical space.

“Because there are dozens of new classes all over the district, almost every school in the Comox Valley is quite full,” he said. “SD71 trustees will have to make some difficult decisions in the coming months to try to alleviate our space issues.”

Moore suggests those decisions could include adding more modular classrooms, (the district added three this fall, and will add three more in January 2018), changing district boundaries, reopening closed schools, or reorganizing the school district’s structure.

SD71 superintendent Dean Lindquist reiterated Moore’s comments.

“From my perspective, it’s been both really good and bad,” he said of last year’s court decision. “When you go into our schools, our class sizes are great. With smaller class sizes, teachers are able to spend more time with individual students. It’s done a great deal of support for children in the classroom.”

“[That said], our schools are full,” Lindquist continued. “We can’t find any more classrooms to free up so we are in a bit of a pickle. We’ve got three new modular classrooms coming in January. Any kind of growth next year, we’re gonna have to [find a solution].”

The 2016 court ruling also restored language in the BCTF’s collective agreement that sets minimums for the number of specialist teachers needed in specific categories.

SD71 did not see an increase in its number of learning support teachers, counsellors, speech/language pathologists or school psychologists. Moore said he’s hopeful that SD71 will find a way to increase the number of specialist teachers in the future.

“Our specialist teachers are struggling because their caseloads are impossibly high and they just don’t have time to effectively teach and assess their students,” he said.

The current collective agreement expires in June 2019.

Just Posted

Elizabeth May juggles Island tour to make stop in Comox

Green leader takes exception to latest tactics from the NDP over minority government question

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh to campaign in Port Alberni

Singh joins Courtenay-Alberni candidate for rally to kick off final weekend before election

Comox Valley Regional District agrees to Union Bay governance study

Process will consider whether community should convert services to the region

Scheer, Trudeau, Singh haggle over potential minority government outcome

If you believe the polls, it appears the Liberals and Conservatives are neck-and-neck

Canucks beat Stanley Cup champs 4-3 in a shootout

Leivo nets winner, Vancouver dumps St. Louis for fourth straight win

Campbell River homicide suspects arrested in Vancouver

Two men remain in custody, but have not been charged

‘The more you test, the more you find’: Beef recalls a sign of success, experts say

Despite appearances, experts say a recent rise in major recalls is not a sign of food supply problems

With $4M investment, Camosun College offers first sonography program on Vancouver Island

Starting in May 2020 students from Vancouver Island can pursue a career in sonography

Elizabeth May confirms plan to eliminate fish farming in open ocean pens

Green Party leader stops in Qualicum Beach as part of Island campaign

STRIKE: WFP and USW are back at the table for mediation

“No further updates until either an agreement is reached or one party or the other breaks off talks”

Pole-climbing thieves pilfering wire in Parksville Qualicum Beach area

Repairs are costly and thefts jeopardize public safety

Japanese buyer expands wood pellet contract with B.C.’s Pinnacle

Mitsui and Co. increases contract with Interior energy producer

Most Read