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Nanaimo school district expects to add more teachers

  - News Bulletin File
— image credit: News Bulletin File

Nanaimo teachers' union is projecting the addition of 25 full-time teachers this school year due to money from the B.C. government as part of a Supreme Court of Canada ruling.

On Thursday, the government announced it will provide $50 million to B.C. school districts after Canada's highest court ruled in favour of B.C.'s teachers in November in their long-standing feud with the province centering on class size and composition negotiating rights.

Mike Ball, Nanaimo teachers' union president, said preliminary discussions with Nanaimo school district administrators were held Friday and of the $50 million, between $1.1 million to $1.2 million could be coming the district's way.

“That would equate to about 12 to 13 full-time [equivalents over a full year], so given it's half a year left, that will be equivalent of about 25 full-time for the remainder of the year,” said Ball.

Ball said it is still to be determined how each school will use the allotment it gets, as that is still being discussed.

Scott Saywell, district assistant superintendent, said it would be a mixture of “enrolling” and “non-enrolling teaching staff,” which not only includes teachers, but staff such as counsellors and librarians as well.

“We have started our conversations with the [Nanaimo teachers' union] already to discern how we're going to add new teachers to the system essentially,” said Saywell.

Saywell and Ball characterized the $50 million as an “interim” measure and it remains to be seen what the effect will be for the 2017-18 school year. The court decision must also be worked into a collective bargaining agreement that was signed in 2014.

“The question is ... is this is all we're going to get this year? Because the next phase of this is to have a full implementation of the restored language for ... [2017-18], but that staffing process starts in March and of course, we'll have an indication of what the province is going to do when they release their February budget,” said Ball.

Ball said provincial funding would have to increase $300 million to return to numbers in 2002, when class size language was originally stripped from the collective bargaining agreement.

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