Teaching positions to be cut

The British Columbia Teachers Federation (BCTF) has learned that B.C. is on the books to lose more than 150 full-time teaching positions.

The British Columbia Teachers Federation (BCTF) has learned that B.C. is on the books to lose more than 150 full-time teaching positions across the province this coming September. The looming cuts were discovered in reports from school districts sent to local teacher associations, according to an official BCTF news release.

“Looking ahead to the 2012–13 school year, we can see that these looming cuts are clearly going to have a negative impact in schools and communities across the province,” said BCTF President Susan Lambert in the release.

She noted that the 150 teaching positions lost this year come on top of over 3,500 full-time positions lost in the last decade, especially teacher-librarians, school counsellors, learning assistance and resource teachers with specialized training.

“That is an enormous amount of professional expertise, personal caring, and individual attention lost to the students of B.C.,” Lambert said.

By contrast, few school boards are cutting administrative positions and indeed many are increasing the number of district administrators.

“Public education done properly is one of the most important things a government can do,” Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald  told The Valley Echo. “Critical to a strong education system is having well-trained people teaching our children with the resources they need to be able to do the job properly.”

Macdonald, also a former teacher and local teachers’ association president, said the way going forward remains troubling.

With respect to the ongoing labour dispute between the province’s teachers and the Liberal government, he said 2011-2012 has been a very difficult year for students, parents and for teachers.

“Ultimately, the public education system is highly valued,” Macdonald said. “The public sees it as hugely important and the public sees, I think, quite correctly what has gone on and that what the BC Liberals have done has degraded the system.”

“There’s just no explanation for doing it, it’s just not good public policy,” he said.

The public education system needs an additional $100 million simply to keep up with cost increases due to inflation, stated the BCTF release. With the overall education budget frozen,  the $30 million saved during the teachers’ three-day strike in March combined with $30 million allocated by the government under Bill-22 for the next school year is anticipated to offset these increases but the overall result will still be more than 150 full-time teaching positions cut.