Money saved from a three-day teachers’ strike last month will spent on improving special needs services, the province has announced.
In all, $37 million was saved – $375,000 in the Coast Mountains school district alone.
Education minister George Abbott said $30 million will be going to the province’s Learning Improvement Fund and $7 million will be available directly to school district’s for specific priorities.
That’s not exactly what the Coast Mountains school board said it wanted to do with the money it didn’t pay teachers during the strike.
At the March 14 school board meeting, school board trustees decided to send a letter to the province requesting to keep all of the money.
Board chair Art Erasmus had said at the time that additional costs incurred from the strike could be offset by the savings.
He explained these costs were primarily the mileage of district staff, as they drove to schools upwards of three times each day to perform supervision duties that teachers were refusing to do as a part of their job action.
Still, Erasmus said last week he was still pleased because the money is going to go toward students through the improvement fund.
“We’re not getting it back for our district, but we get it back to spend on special needs students, and that’s good,” he said.
He is still waiting for details on exactly how school districts will spend the remaining $7 million.
Karen Andrews from the Terrace and District Teachers’ Union was disappointed in the news, saying the school district will have to fight to get the money from a provincial pot now.
“That money is going to have to be divided among all of the school districts,” she explained. “We (teachers) feel that the Learning Improvement Fund is going to pit classes and schools and school district’s against each other. They’re all going to have to fight for this tiny amount of money.”
An additional seven million dollars saved during the strike will be distributed to school boards across the province, but Erasmus said is it unknown how much this district will receive, and what kind of stipulations the money will come with.