The equivalent of 23 full-time teachers will be coming to Nanaimo school district.

The equivalent of 23 full-time teachers will be coming to Nanaimo school district.

Equivalent of 23 teachers coming to Nanaimo school district

NANAIMO – First steps in adhering to Canadian Supreme Court ruling in teachers' dispute being taken.

The equivalent of 23 full-time teachers are expected to added to Nanaimo district schools by Monday (Jan. 30).

In November, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in favour of B.C. teachers in their 14-year dispute with the B.C. government involving removal of class size and composition language from the collective bargaining agreement.

The province announced in January $50 million for the current school year via a memorandum of agreement, which the district said is the first step in responding to the ruling. At the district’s Jan. 18 business committee meeting, Tim Davie, assistant school superintendent, said close to $1.2 million is coming to Nanaimo.

Davie said administrators have been working with Nanaimo union representatives and last Wednesday, allocations to schools were finalized.

“The objective is for us to be able to get the [full-time equivalent] staffing into our schools for the start of second semester with the secondary schools and on the same date for the elementary schools, so it’s coming up pretty quickly here,” said Davie.

Davie emphasized that it may not necessarily be 23 new teachers coming into the system, but it could also include “top ups of people who are in part-time assignments” as well as additional staff.

“The larger [elementary] schools are getting a teacher for 3.5 days a week, slightly smaller ones are getting three days a week, with the remainder getting a teacher for two days a week,” said Mike Ball, Nanaimo teachers’ union president.

Ball said bigger high schools are getting about 1.5 full-time equivalent teachers, while the smaller ones are getting about 0.75 full-time equivalents.

The union and province entered into a collective agreement in 2014 that will expire in 2019. There is a re-opener clause in the event 2002 language needs to be re-introduced. Ball said those discussions are ongoing between the government and the provincial union.

“That is our expectation that they will come to a conclusion … If they need to bargain some changes, which is what they should’ve done in 2002, then they need to come to the bargaining table with an offer, but that can’t wait until 2019 or if they want to do it sooner, then they need to notify us that they want to make changes and the [provincial union] will respond to that appropriately,” said Ball.