School districts gets funding shot in the arm

An injection of $625,000 will go towards new staffing positions as well as training for teachers

School District 72 recently received a funding boost from the provincial government.

An injection of $625,000 will go towards new staffing positions as well as training for teachers during Professional Development (Pro-D) Days.

The funds come from the B.C. Education Ministry’s $165 million Learning Improvement Fund, which was announced last spring and built up with savings from the teacher’s strike last school year.

The money forwarded to School District 72 was allocated to both CUPE (Canadian Union of Public Employees) workers and teachers.

A total of $146,112 went to CUPE to pay an additional 36 working minutes each week between 119 Education Assistants in schools.

“This additional time shall be used for consultation on IEP’s (Individualized Education Plans for those with special needs), safety plans, debriefing and collaboration,” said Superintendent Tom Longridge, in his report to the board of education.

CUPE also received funding for two new, 25-hour per week educational assistant positions, and one 20-hour per week educational assistant. Money was also allocated to bump up one educational assistant’s working week by five hours.

Teachers were allocated $478,887 from the Learning Improvement Fund to add one full-time elementary counsellor, a behavioural resource teacher, as well as a part-time instructional support teacher and a support coordinator. A part-time literacy/numeracy teacher and an academic intervention instructor were also funded.

Longridge said $52,641 will go towards teacher training on Pro-D day to address challenges in the classroom.

The funds will “provide training to teachers for FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder), behavioural intervention strategies, autism training, and non-violent crisis intervention training,” Longridge said.

The final portion allocated to teachers will build up a 30 per cent reserve for the second semester of this school year “to support staffing needs that arise for the second semester.”

Funding was spread out based on discussions with all the schools in the district last spring and again in the fall, to determine where there was the most need.

The Learning Education Fund doubled from $30 million to $60 this year due to a province-wide operational savings of $37 million thanks to last March’s three-day teacher walkout.

The first $60 was distributed last month, while a further $60 million will be allocated to the fund in 2013-14, and $75 million will be injected in 2014-15 and each year after that, as per the 2012 education budget.