NANAIMO — A significant amount of weight will hopefully slide off the shoulders of local teachers starting next September, according to a Nanaimo teachers rep.
Mike Ball, president of the Nanaimo District Teachers Association, said there will be 65 new, local full-time positions at the start of the 2017-2018 school year.
“There will be extra divisions and on top of that extra (supports) will be created as they need extra resources for student support services, libraries and music teachers,etc,” he said.
These 65 new positions for Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools (District 68) are on top of an already 23 positions announced for District 68, also introduced as fallout from a contract dispute between the province and the B.C. Teachers' Federation.
The B.C. government is mandated by the Supreme Court of Canada to reintroduce aspects of their old contract with teachers regarding class size, the number of special needs students who can be in a class and how many specialized teachers are required at each school. The language was removed in 2002, when premier Christy Clark was the minister of education, which sparked a 15 years legal battle.
In total, $330 million from the province is expected to pay for all the new staff which will be coming to schools across the province.
Ball said the decision will help reduce stress on schools in Nanaimo, such as Ecole Hammond Bay Elementary, which he said is 150 per cent over-capacity and will stop the closure of schools.
“With the restored language, they're going to have to put portables into schools because they don't have enough classrooms, because they don't have enough schools,” he said.
Ball said the provincial government is “disingenuous” when they describe the money as extra funding for their schools, especially in the lead-up to an election.
“The government got to save on average $300 million a year for 15 years and denied students and parents the education they deserved,” he said. “Now that (premier Christy Clark's) excited and delighted to put it back, she needs a history lesson.”
Ball said with the legal battle now over, the teachers' federation can focus on addressing other major concerns with the school system, such as funding for private schools.
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