The provincial government allocated over $355 million in funding to all 60 school districts. It restores the class size and composition language in an agreement with the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation (BCTF).
It means approximately 3,330 new full-time teachers and specialists and restoring about 1,400 class-sizes across BC.
Of the funding, School District 57 is receiving over $9 million. It means 83.5 full-time equivalent teachers and specialty teachers. “We had hoped for it to be allocated earlier than this,” says Richard Giroday, President of the Prince George District Teachers Association (PGDTA). “I am not sure that the government was in a position to do that because of the elections and the way things had turned out, things were pretty up in the air. In fact, we hadn’t expected it to take place this quick, and that was good news.”
The District had estimated it would take about $ 8.7 million to restore the language. The PGDTA is pleased with the amount set aside for the District.
However, there could be additional costs. “What we have is what is called a ‘process’,” says Giroday. “In other words, if a teacher looks at a situation and realizes there’s going to be a serious impact on the learning in their class, then there is a series of steps that they can take to move forward. That is the restored language we have, it’s different than what other districts have. That could generate additional costs and funding.”
Money will start flowing in the fall. While the government has committed over $9 million, the final figure will depend on enrollment numbers. “The September 30th count is very important,” says Marilyn Marquis-Forster, Superintendent of School District 57. “Following that official count, we are then funded for the specific number of students we have. We do not anticipate that we will have less students September 30th. That has not been the experience the last couple of years. It looks like the city is doing well, so we are expecting to welcome every student we predicted and perhaps even a few more.”
With funding expected to start flowing soon, Giroday is looking forward to supports being put back in place. “A teacher said to me I can finally teach my class. In other words, instead of being a manager of students, they became a the teachers of students again. They are excited about it–we are excited about it.”