SCC ruling raises space and budget concerns for School District 23

The Central Okanagan School District is writing a letter to the Ministry of Education, outlining the budget and classroom space challenges the district is expecting following the BC Teachers Federation win in Supreme Court.

The landmark decision, made last November, ended a 14 year battle between the province and the BC Teachers Federation, and restored 2002 collective agreement language, which is expected to make classroom sizes smaller.

Since the ruling, the Ministry of Education has been negotiating funding with the BC Teachers Federation to implement the ruling for the next school year, 2017/2018.

Moyra Baxter, School District 23 Board Chair, says space is already tight in the district with increasing enrollment, and the board is writing a letter to the Ministry to add its voice to the negotiations.

“We want to make sure that it will be fully funded and for us, in this school district in particular, space is a real issue,” she says “We may have to end up putting portables onto some sites and we may have to purchase portables which is extremely expensive”

Baxter says with the cost of transportation, portables can cost up to $50,000 and require municipal approval.

The letter will ask for assurances from the Ministry that adequate, sustainable and predictable funding will be provided. 

The province has already given schools $50 million to implement the ruling for the remainder of the current school year. Central Okanagan School District got $2 million, which was used to hire 45 teachers, many working as support staff in existing classrooms.

The district is currently at a capacity of 104 per cent.