The Abbotsford School District is hiring up to 40 new teachers for the remainder of the current school year, thanks to $1.7 million in new funding from the province.
The cash is Abbotsford’s share of a $50 million deal between the provincial government and the B.C. Teachers Federation, resulting from the province’s loss to the union in Supreme Court in November. The legal battle had been hard fought between the two parties since 2002, when then-education minister Christy Clark removed class size and special needs staffing ratios from the union.
The district is moving fast to hire for the new positions, as it is competing with every other district in the province, at the same time, said spokesperson Kayla Stuckart.
Doug Smuland, president of Abbotsford District Teachers’ Association, called the announcement “great news for teachers and the students they serve” but said the influx is not “anywhere near the level it needs to reach.”
He said ADTA and district came to an agreement to have the new teachers spread evenly throughout the district.
“What must be made clear is that although this influx of money to Abbotsford is well received, it is only a portion of the total amount that the BC Liberal government ought to have provided our students over the past fifteen years,” Smuland wrote, in an email.
“The continued underfunding of public schools in Abbotsford would most certainly have continued had the Supreme Court of Canada not forced the BC Liberal government to restore what had been illegally stripped.”
Smuland also said the district now faces the challenge of finding or creating classroom space to accommodate the new teachers. He also expressed concern about the district’s ability to hire 40 teachers while surrounding districts are also hiring.
“These challenges might all have been avoided had more school districts and their trustees spoken out against the illegal and damaging cuts to public education in our communities all along,” he said.