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Delta school board hears teacher, CUPE concerns

The DTA says teachers have experienced more violent and behaviourally challenged students
From left: Delta School District Secretary Treasurer Nicola Christ, Board of Education Chair Val Windsor and Superintendent of Schools Doug Sheppard at this week’s meeting.

The Delta School Board held its budget input meeting on Tuesday (April 23), hearing just two presentations.

The district faces a $1.388 million operating deficit for 2023/24.

This year, the district tried a different approach in the hope of gathering more public feedback on what should be Delta’s priorities and the proposed budget, starting with a survey this spring.

This board of education at this week’s input meeting heard presentations from CUPE Local 454 as well as the Delta Teachers’ Association, both commending the board’s approach but also outlining several ongoing concerns.

Joanne Gill, First Vice-President of CUPE Local 454, expressing appreciation for no loss of jobs for their members, told the board it’s concerning that the district still faces a deficit despite the per pupil funding from the province increasing and this year’s operating grant being the highest received by the district.

Saying they will continue to lobby government that inclusion is not working, she said supplementary and per pupil funding need to improve for the district to be able to provide much needed supports, adding they know the system is broken and there is a responsibility to fix it.

Anticipating a decrease in enrollment of 89 full-time enrolled students next year, the district is citing the high impacts of inflation and other costs.

The district is proposing a series of balancing measures which included departments building their budgets from scratch rather than the usual approach of trimming their current budgets, an approach known as zero-based budgeting.

DTA President Susan Yao, thanking the board for maintaining the current peer support program but renewing a call to reinstate teacher-librarian flex hours, said at every school, site they’ve been hearing the need for additional supports including counselling time, assistance for students with diverse needs and teacher resources.

The recent addition of classroom engagement funding of 22 positions until the end of the school year is welcome news but more is needed, she said.

“Primary teachers, in particular, have experienced more violent and behaviourally challenged students than ever before. We know the great value of support personnel such as the dedicated educational assistants, the child and youth care workers and many others who help to build that supportive scaffolding for the students of Delta. It is the hope of the DTA, the Delta Teachers’ Association, that budgetary decisions favour keeping as many of these people on the team as possible,” she said.

The board is to make a final decision on the budget at its next meeting on Tuesday, April 30 at the board offices, starting at 7:30 p.m.