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BC Teachers Federation says status quo budget will not put a dent into teaching shortage

“We’ve been clear for the months that the status quo has lots of gaps.”

That’s from BC Teachers Federation President Clint Johnston regarding the 2024 Budget and how it does not include a targeted teacher recruitment fund to shore up staffing shortages in the K-12 system.

He told Vista Radio while campaign season is still months away, the Teacher’s Federation is hoping the governing NDP has a few more funding announcements up its sleeve.

“We didn’t see that in the budget so what we are hopeful for is that it’s an election year and they are saving some of that and will put it into announcements over the next while but that’s what’s needed to keep education functioning.”

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Johnston added the current funding announcements will help in the short term but some other holes remain.

“There are increases if you call them that over the next three years, which will look after enrollment growth and there’s a small amount like the 30-million to assist with early diagnosis and training to support students with dyslexia and some other pieces.”

As for the teacher shortages themselves, Johnston would like to see Victoria put a little more pressure on school districts to provide more up-to-date numbers on teacher vacancies across BC.

“School boards have that data among their districts but overall in the province, that is a little bit harder. We think the ministry needs to put more pressure on districts to keep that up to date and let them know where the gaps are and how many uncertified teachers there are. I think that is what we were asking for pre-budget, which is something in the budget for money and commitment as well as some strategy where we laid out some ideas about loan forgiveness programs and retention for rural and remote along with some further training, guaranteeing us money where we roll out new programs so teachers don’t burn out.”

A list of the BCTF budget highlights and misses can be found below.

Budget 2024 highlights (fiscal plan covers three years)

  • $968 million to keep up with growing enrollment including more teachers
  • $4.2 billion to build, renovate, and seismically upgrade schools
  • $255 million for the Classroom Enhancement Fund, including special education teachers and school counsellors to keep up with enrollment
  • $30.3 million for learning supports to support students with dyslexia and related learning differences in K–12 system.

Missing from Budget 2024

  • a targeted teacher recruitment fund to relieve current K–12 staffing shortages
  • a targeted teacher retention fund to enhance retention of the current workforce and improve working conditions and supports for students
  • funding for special education staffing and services that fully covers what school districts actually spend on inclusive education.
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