Year in Rearview: More teachers will be hired

Supreme Court ruling in November ended a 14-year legal battle between the two groups

  • Dec. 28, 2016 7:00 p.m.

Dispute over education carried on in 2016.

Full-time postings for teaching positions in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows could be posted as early as January.

This would be a result of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation win over the B.C. Liberal government in the Supreme Court of Canada.

The ruling in November ended a 14-year legal battle between the two groups.

In 2002, the B.C. government stripped the teachers’ union contract, taking away teacher’s rights to bargain class sizes and composition.

The Supreme Court of Canada ultimately agreed with the union, saying it was unconstitutional.

Currently there are discussions taking place between the government and the B.C. Teachers’ Federation over the best ways to put language back into the contract.

“What we expect is, come January, we will probably see every school district posting teaching positions and hiring teachers into schools,” said George Serra, with the Maple Ridge Teachers’ Association.

“This year we anticipate that might end up looking like having teachers go in to help out with oversized classes, but not necessarily to take over brand new classes,” added Serra, explaining that it would be too destructive to move children into a new classroom half-way through the school year.

Schools should also see better ratios for teacher librarians and counselors.

“You will see more counselors, especially at the elementary level in our district. You are also going to see more teacher librarian time,” said Serra.

“It won’t necessarily be full-time positions.”

The union previously estimated that the cost to get staff levels to what they were in 2002 could cost between $250 million to $300 million per year.

The Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school board had to make budget cuts the past several years, including $5.7 million in the 2013/14 school year, $5 million in 2014/15 and $1.7 million in 2015/16.

School board chair Mike Murray is hoping there will be a settlement on the current negotiations sooner rather than later and that district will see additional funding in the classroom.

“It could be incremental,” he said about funding.

“I’m not sure but I think there is a desire to get something going fairly quickly,” he added.

“We know that the two sides to the negotiations are meeting on a continuing basis and that’s really all the updates we’ve been getting at this stage.”

 

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