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$700K for 17 new teachers for Cowichan school district

Candace Spilsbury - Citizen file
Candace Spilsbury
— image credit: Citizen file

An extra $718,000 to hire 17 additional teachers is the first wave of changes the Cowichan Valley school district has seen following the recent Supreme Court decision about class size and composition.

That decision, which follows more than a decade of legal wrangling between the BC Teachers’ Federation and the provincial government, has led to many serious concerns for school districts, but the hiring of extra teachers to start Feb. 13 will bridge any immediate gaps until the end of the 2016/17 school year.

The provincial government has been divvying up $50 million around the province in response to the judgement.

“In Cowichan, the new funding translates into approximately 17 additional teaching positions, in a combination of new positions and increasing existing part-time staff. Decisions about where to place new teachers were made collaboratively by teachers, principals and local unions,” according to schools superintendent Rod Allen.

“Everyone pulled together to identify where funding would benefit students most,” he said, when the announcement of the funding was made at the Feb. 14 board of education meeting.

School board chair Candace Spilsbury agreed, adding that the district knows there’s lots more to talk about.

“Though the BCTF and the Ministry of Education are still working out the details, we anticipate the province will increase funding to hire more teachers in the long-term,” she said. “Teachers have such a complex role in today’s education. We’re certainly glad to be hiring, and to be collaborating with teachers and principals to put students first.”

During an analysis of the final 2016/17 budget, held earlier in the meeting, district secretary-treasurer Jason Sandquist suggested that some of this year’s $994,396 budget surplus could also be used to deal with as-yet-unknown problems arising from implementing the court decision.

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