Students head into a portable classroom in Chilliwack. Some urban centres are seeing rising enrolment. (Jenna Hauck/Black Press)

B.C. government sets goals as kids head back to school in September

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation has blamed a shortage of teachers and specialists for causing disruptions in the last school year.

British Columbia’s education minister said the province’s schools have had a $580 million funding boost that has enabled the government to hire up to 3,700 new teachers and a number of educational assistants.

Rob Fleming said Thursday 600,000 students will return to class in September with record levels of funding, smaller class sizes, more teachers and support staff.

A Supreme Court of Canada decision in 2016 forced the provincial government to restore staffing to 2002 levels after it ruled a former Liberal government improperly took away the union’s right to bargain class size and the composition of those classes.

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation has blamed a shortage of teachers and specialists for causing disruptions in the last school year.

Related: Teachers’ union files grievance over public school educator shortage in B.C.

Related: B.C. schools brace for more students, teachers

Federation president Glen Hansman said the increase in teachers or funding isn’t something Fleming or the new NDP government has done.

“It’s something that the court ordered because of teachers’ persistence through the court,” he said. “Beyond what the court ordered there hasn’t been any new additional funding on the operational side from the province.”

Fleming said the province is having difficulty recruiting French immersion teachers and school districts in the Lower Mainland have had to curtail the planned expansion of French programs. Some districts in rural areas have also had trouble hiring secondary school math and science teachers, he said, because moving to those areas is a “bigger life decision.”

Hansman said it is also difficult to find teachers for Vancouver because of how expensive it is to live in the city.

In a letter to Fleming earlier this year the federation recommended that the minister establish a provincewide recruitment and retention fund, and assist in student loan payments, among other things.

Fleming said the problem has been left for so long that it is taking a lot of care and attention to fix.

Hansman said the federation wants the province to be “more proactive,” and he gave the former B.C. Liberal government credit for putting $2 million into a fund to help rural and remote school districts offer moving allowances to help attract teachers from other provinces.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Jointly-hosted tea at museum

Strawberry Social 2 p.m. June 15th at museum grounds

The pen is mightier than the board

Local group of kids plans to put out regular newsletter as fundraising initiative

Celebrate Pride in the Park at 2nd annual event

Weekend of festivities June 14-15th

Ambushed with honour

Mike Gray receives Rotary’s highest honour in surprise presentation at Horsethief pub anniversary

Mountain-high honour

Belayed thanks to long-serving community member Herb Weller

10 facts about Father’s Day

Did you know that the special day for dads was first celebrated in 1910?

B.C. VIEWS: When farmland protection doesn’t protect farmers

Secondary residences aren’t mansions, families tell Lana Popham

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

Northern B.C. family remembers murdered Indigenous woman with memorial walk

Still no closure for Ramona Wilson’s family 25 years later

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

Revamped B.C. Lions set to battle veteran Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The Lions’ first test of the season will be a big one

No business case for Trans Mountain expansion, says former environment minister

Cabinet is expected to announce its decision on the expansion of the Alberta-to-B.C. pipeline by Tuesday

Most Read