Nanaimo teachers say school money isn’t enough

The Nanaimo teachers' union and school board chairwoman say that Learning Improvement Fund money for 2014-15 is not adequate.

Despite over $2 million in Learning Improvement Fund money for 2014-15, the Nanaimo teachers’ union and school board chairwoman say funding for students is still not adequate.

The fund deals with class size and composition and there will be $1.8 million for teachers and about $453,800 for support staff for the current school year. According to the school district, money will be spent on a number of positions, including instructional coordinators and various full-time equivalent teachers for elementary and secondary schools.

However, Nanaimo teachers’ union president Mike Ball said approximately $1 million had already been accounted for as part of the 2014-15 budget.

Ball said the district has the largest secondary class size in the province again, based on last year’s enrolment numbers, and is in the top fifth percentile for kindergarten, and Grades 1 to 7. In addition, there are classes with far too many students with special needs, he said.

“When you look at the amount that’s missing, for our district to be able to spend another $5.5 million on meeting the needs of students, would be a significant change and it would go a lot closer to fully meeting those needs,” Ball said.

The school board is expected to vote tomorrow (Oct. 22) on whether to write the Ministry of Education expressing concern about the fact the majority of the fund is not new money and will not meet the district’s class composition issues.

“The increase, I think, is roughly 25 per cent on the existing learning improvement fund and then when you sit down you tend to think, ‘We’ve got a great increase,’ and the realization of what that amounts to and what it will actually produce in terms of additional resources, I think it’s a disappointment,” said Dot Neary, school board chairwoman.

Like Ball, she said the feeling is the amount is nowhere near adequate to meet the needs within the school district.

reporter@nanaimobulletin.com