‘Clock Ticking’ on Deal with Teachers
Prince George, B.C. – With just one week to go until B.C. Finance Minister Mike de Jong delivers the provincial budget there’s still no deal in place between the BCTF and the Province.
BCTF president Glen Hansman says de Jong’s budget is important because teachers are expecting the government to properly fund all its obligations following the union’s Supreme Court victory in November.
“Talks are ongoing, the parties are meeting regularly, we had several dates last week and we’ve been meeting as much as possible and we’ll continue to meet until it gets done,” Hansman tells 250News.
“We’re keen to get this finalized so that the following school year can start off on the right footing.”
He’s expecting the Province to come through with $300 million – that’s on top of the $50 million interim measure announced last month and on top of the $80 million Teacher Education Fund negotiated in 2014.
“The $300 million is what we’re estimating the Province must include in the budget to do the full scope restoration,” says Hansman.
“There’s been a lot taken out of the system over the past 15 years but on a year to year basis we know approximately what they’ve been saving and so that number is representative of what’s been taken out.”
Last week the union outlined what the key funding priorities for government should be.
It included calling on the Ministry of Education to act on the recommendations from the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government and Services of the past two years that have called for adequate, stable and predictable funding for K-12 public education.
They also recommended reinstating free tuition for adults taking adult education to upgrade secondary courses, that funding be provided to address issues of mental health and to eliminate public funding for independent schools over a four-year timeline.
Hansman says it’s important to arrive at a deal as soon as possible because school districts start hiring for the following school year in March and April.