Vancouver School Board to get $22M less in class size and composition money than expected

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The Vancouver School Board (VSB) said it is receiving about $22 million less than it was promised to hire new teachers and bring down class sizes.

The money comes from the Classroom Enhancement Fund, $355 million that was put aside by the province after it lost its 15-year battle with teachers over class size and composition in the Supreme Court of Canada.

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Back in March, The VSB was slated to receive $57.6 million, said interim Supt. John Lewis, who cited communications from the Ministry of Education.

Instead, it’s only receiving $35.2 million.

And that means it can only afford to fund 300 of the 400 teaching positions it requested money for, Lewis said.

In an email, the Ministry of Education said the estimates provided back in March were “to assist districts with their budgeting preparations but, as communicated at that point in time, the allocations were notional only and based on provincial cost estimates.”

It goes on to say adjustments to the funding were necessary after districts submitted their final staffing plans.

It says those adjustments were based on different districts’ specific staffing requirements, and a more detailed analysis of the Supreme Court of Canada ruling.

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But Lewis said the district still doesn’t know why it’s receiving less than it expected.

“We’re still reviewing with the government, we’re engaging them in conversation to understand fully how they arrived at the reduction of 95 from our initial notional allocation,” Lewis said.

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The board is still hoping for more funds, he added.

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Vancouver isn’t the only school district that’s calling for more cash.

The Saanich School District is receiving around $5 million — about $1.5 million less than it expected, according to Saanich Teachers’ Association president Don Peterson.

“It’s about the equivalent of 15 teachers,” he said.

Vancouver will still receive the largest slice of the money in the fund, followed by Surrey at $32 million and Richmond at $23 million.

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