“The BC Liberals and Premier Christy Clark are putting the successful start of the next school year at risk by clinging to power,” said BCTF President Glen Hansman.
“When the Supreme Court of Canada restored what was illegally stripped from teachers' collective agreements, the education community in BC was relieved to know that smaller classes and more supports for children with special needs were finally on the way,” said Hansman. “The subsequent implementation agreement set a clear path forward to ensure that next school year starts with better teaching and learning conditions in place. Unfortunately, the government's stalling tactics since the May 9 election created huge uncertainty for school districts who must finalize their budgets by June 30. Christy Clark has been so busy with delays and political theatre that her government is putting our students' education at risk again.”
Hansman said school districts have been hamstrung for weeks by not knowing how much funding they were getting to implement the restored contract language. It was only late last week that the government informed districts of their funding allotments, and in many cases, the amounts came up far short. The result is more potential cuts to school programs and staffing.
“Springtime is normally when all the hiring and organizing occurs for students' classes in the fall,” said Hansman. “Because of the delay and uncertainty in funding, many of these processes have been on hold or not completed. Now, with districts around the province receiving significantly less than what is needed and expected, the BC Liberals have allowed uncertainty and instability to play out at a critical time. It is unacceptable.”
In Vancouver, it has been reported that the school district is getting $22 million less than expected, which will result in fewer classes meeting the class-size and class-composition limits. The district is also proceeding with more cuts to adult education programs.
In Saanich, the provincial government has shorted the school district the $1.5 million in funding needed to hire the 15 new teachers to meet the restored contract language.
In Richmond, the school district sent a letter to all employees outlining that the provincial funding shortfall means 100 fewer teachers than what the district believes is required.
Kamloops and Abbotsford school districts are planning to cut 18 and 11 education assistant jobs, respectively. This is a direct result of inadequate government funding.
“If the provincial government doesn't act quickly to meet the real funding requirements of school districts, next school year is going to be unnecessarily chaotic and students will still be facing cuts,” said Hansman. “It's been almost two months since the election and our students need certainty, not more stalling. Christy Clark's ongoing efforts to put her political career before our students must come to an end.”