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

B.C. schools brace for more students, teachers

Hiring 3,500 more teachers going well, Education Minister Rob Fleming says

Most urban and rural schools are keeping pace in their efforts to recruit and retain more teachers to meet a court-mandated target for reduced class sizes, Education Minister Rob Fleming says.

With 3,500 new teaching positions to be filled going into the school year that begins Tuesday, there was concern that teachers would migrate to urban centres that have the bulk of the new job openings. But Fleming said Friday that based on his conversations with school district officials so far, they are managing.

B.C. is attracting teachers from out of province to take part in one of the largest increases in teaching resources ever, Fleming said.

“I think the story is getting out there that B.C., after 16 years of confrontation, and that’s all you heard about our school system was government fighting teachers, B.C. has an ambitious agenda for public education now, and this is an exciting place to come and work,” he said.

The B.C. Liberal government signed a deal in March providing $330 million to fund 2,600 new teacher positions, to comply with a November 2016 Supreme Court of Canada ruling that ended a 15-year court battle over contract language governing class size and special needs support ratios.

The settlement was added to when the NDP government took office in July, and the cost is now estimated at $376 million. The agreement is to carry the province’s public school system to 2019, when the current teacher contract must be renegotiated.

Fleming acknowledged that some rural districts are still working to recruit teachers, and specialty teaching positions are part of the challenge.

When the agreement with the union was reached, the ministry established a $2 million fund for rural and remote school districts to help recruit and retain teachers. The agreement also includes alternatives when a district can’t meet the restored teacher contract provisions that were removed by legislation in 2002.

Teachers can agree to take additional preparation time, extra teaching support or other forms of assistance, if approved by them and their union local.

Just Posted

BREAKING: Evacuation orders and alerts issued for North Thompson

Some properties in Electoral Area ‘E’ and ‘J’ are asked to leave immediately

City of Kelowna water advisory expanded

Residents of Swick Road water system added to the advisory

Kelowna, what do you look for in a mayoral candidate?

Black Press reporter Matthew Abrey hit the streets to ask the question

Kelowna cops searching for Rutland toilet vandals

Thousands of dollars in damage done as toilets at Rutland Sports Fields are smashed

Huge new Kelowna food bank ready to open

Food bank officials promise a ‘grocery store-style’ expedience for clients at the new location

What’s happening

Find out what is happening around the valley this sunshine-filled May weekend

Unusually nasty odour repulses Chase residents

Village staff trying to get bacteria working in lagoons at sewage treatment plant

B.C. RCMP swoop in to save injured eagle

An eagle with a broken wing now in a recovery facility after RCMP rescue near Bella Coola

Run for beer along Penticton’s Ale Trail

The second annual Penticton Beer Run takes place on June 2

Bug spray 101: Health Canada wants you to stay bite free

Health Canada is reminding Canadians to use bug spray and other insect repellents safely

Unions reject CP Rail contract offers

Both meeting Friday to determine next steps; 72 hours notice required before strike action.

B.C. jewellers warn public about fake gold scam

‘They are playing on people’s sympathy and their greed’

Former B.C. premier says pot industry about to enter Wild West

Mike Harcourt says Canada is about to enter a new gold rush with many dreaming of striking it rich

Hunt continues for two suspects in Ontario restaurant explosion

The explosion left 15 people injured, but all victims have now been released from hospital

Most Read