Attracting and keeping teachers, as well giving them adequate support, are major issues facing classrooms in Delta and throughout the province.
That’s according to Delta Teachers’ Association president Susan Yao and B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Teri Mooring, who took part in a special meeting of local teachers at Cedar Park Church in Ladner Tuesday afternoon to give an update on the status of contract talks with the province.
“We have a significant recruitment and retention issue in B.C. and that is an issue in Delta as well. It means that we just don’t have enough teachers who can fill in for teachers when they are away,” explained Mooring. “What that often means is that specialist teachers like teacher librarians, counsellors, learning support teachers are pulled from their work to fill in at classrooms. When that happens, those students who would get those services that day wouldn’t get them.”
Yao agreed, noting low pay compared to other provinces is the major drawback.
The provincial government is also currently undertaking a review of the current funding formula for districts. Teachers are particularly concerned with a potential change that could results in a prevalence model to fund for students who require additional assistance.
Mooring said that model relies on statistics, instead of the current method of providing funding for specifically identified students in the classroom.
It’s not clear what type of statistical calculation would be used, said Mooring, adding it could mean students falling through the cracks.
Yao noted Delta provides an outreach program for support for kids with autism which has attracted many students from outside the Delta district, so Delta’s higher than average number may not be reflected in a new statistical model.
What’s more, several job postings for the Delta program have remained unfilled for months due to low pay, Yao added.
Noting mediated contract talks are set to resume in early December, Mooring said the process right now for the funding formula review isn’t clear, other than the province has stated an announcement will be made in March.
“That’s not very comforting, considering we have very significant issues with some of the recommendations, particularly with the ones related for funding for special education,” said Mooring.
Delta school board chair Val Windsor this week also said it’s still not clear what will be distributed to the district.
The district will be having a meeting with partner groups in the next few weeks to go over reports that have come, so far, from the review, added Windsor, a former Delta Teachers’ Association president.