The province is releasing $50 million to school districts across the province to hire more teachers.
It’s part of an agreement reached with the BC Teachers’ Federation following a Supreme Court ruling that bargaining legislation imposed in 2002 was unconstitutional.
The money can be used to hire additional teachers, which could change classroom sizes and composition, but at this point in the school year – in order not
to disrupt students that are settled – the money will likely be used to provide more classroom support.
“So we’re probably talking more non-enrolling teachers, but teachers that work directly with students,” Susan Bauhart, president of the Central Okanagan Teachers’ Association said. “Classroom support, literacy support, behaviour support – working directly with students.”
District committees will be struck immediately to talk with teachers and determine where needs are the greatest.
In the Okanagan, the funding should amount to about $2 million for the Central Okanagan School District – enough for the equivalent of 40 full time teachers.
The North Okanagan-Shuswap School District is expecting between $500,000 and $600,000 – enough for 10 full time equivalent positions.
The Okanagan Skaha School District also expect to hire for 10 positions, with about $450,000 allocated.
Vernon School District numbers were not available.
The additional staff is only an interim solution.
Bargaining will continue with the province to determine funding for the next school year.
That could prove difficult for administrators who begin planning staffing and scheduling in February.
“So that’s all going to be a bit of a scramble and we probably won’t know what the final agreement is until sometime in the middle of that,” Kevin Kaardal, superintendent of the Central Okanagan School District, said.
But the biggest test Kaardal sees for his school district is finding more classroom space.
“It is the biggest challenge. We’re at 104 per cent capacity, so where do you put people?”
Requests for new schools for the Central Okanagan school district are already submitted to the ministry.
There are hopes that the new staffing situation could help move those requests along.