For the sake of preserving a reserve fund NPA dominated Vancouver School Board cut another small piece of the ground from under the feet of special needs students. Suggesting that their action was fiscally responsible and noting that staffing levels were just the same as at the start of 2005-2006 NPA trustees seem confident that cutting resource teachers and learning assistance teachers is okay.
The eliminated positions were added in January 2006 during the frenzy of the one-time funding dropped on school boards as a result of the October Strike. In early budget papers the School Board was planning to cut even deeper than the 26 FTE (full time equivalent positions) that they have cut at this time. To partially cushion the blow the board has created full-time teacher on call positions from the regular TOC budget to keep the laid-off teachers in the system. As an aside, the TOC issue is a major one that is affecting districts across the province and while it has disappeared from the news it remains a major difficulty in the everyday lives of our schools.
From CBC News
The Vancouver School Board voted Wednesday to boost its reserve budget for the upcoming school year by cutting at least 25 teaching positions.
By a 5-3 vote, the board eliminated jobs for librarians, English-as-a-second-language instructors and special-needs teachers. The cuts will allow the board to add $1.5 million to its reserve budget.
Board member Eleanor Gregory said the reserve fund must be topped up to cover expenses arising from the deal that ended last year’s teacher’s strike. “We know we will have immediate needs in our next budget year … in the order of several million dollars,” Gregory said.
B.C. teachers ended a bitter two-week strike in 2005 after they approved a settlement proposed by mediator Vince Ready to get them through this school year.
* FROM APRIL 21, 2006: Teachers ready to talk money
* LINK: Facilitator Vince Ready’s report (.pdf) External site
Board member Allen Wong voted against the cuts. He says the reserve budget has historically been in the $3-million to $4-million range, and didn’t need to be topped up to nearly $6 million.
“We’re taking money away from educating our vulnerable students and just socking it into the reserve,” Wong said.
He adds that it will be more difficult to ask the province for additional funding when the board’s reserve fund is sitting at record levels.
Gregory says about $2.5 million of the reserve budget will go toward increasing the pay of on-call teachers.