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BACK TO SCHOOL: Contract negotiations in the offing for CTA
Classes are in session across School District 43 after a two-month break and The Tri-City News asked key individuals how they think schools will manage under increased financial constraints and what they hope to accomplish in the coming months.
After watching from the sidelines as Coquitlam Teachers' Association vice-president, Charley King now steps into the limelight as president after Theresa Grandinetti left the post to take on new duties.
The new union head hopes he'll have more than just worries about teachers' jobs and school finances to deal with. In the coming months, King said he will be advocating for teachers who lost their jobs in the recent round of cuts but will also be highlighting the important work teachers do in schools.
But there is no way to soft-pedal the fact that cuts to teachers and support worker jobs will mean less support for students, "especially for students that are vulnerable and falling throughout the cracks anyways."
King doesn't expect huge jumps in class sizes but he does think specialized classes that used to have fewer students to accommodate those with special needs will now be larger, especially in secondary schools.
"Before they were lower in recognition of students with IEPs [individual education plans]," he said. "Now, they will be loaded up to the maximum number."
Last May, 12 jobs in the development department were cut, leaving only six people left and King thinks the effect will be less support for teachers implementing new programs or working with children with special education needs.
"I think it's gong to be a huge loss. That's one of the things. Parents and students won't see it day one" but he expects the effect could be noticed as the years progresses.
As for teachers negotiations, the BCTF has said they will begin in October, after a court battle over class size and composition issues.
On a happier note, King is looking forward to celebrating teachers' accomplishments up to and including Saturday, Oct. 5, which is World Teachers' Day.