Coquitlam teachers to vote on class size deal

Already 53 teachers have been hired as a result of an interim deal

School District 43's 2,200 teachers are expected to vote on a province-wide deal to restore class size and composition language beginning Tuesday.

If passed, it could result in smaller classes and more teacher supports, according to the president of the Coquitlam Teachers' Association.

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Ken Christensen said it's not yet known how many teachers will be hired and what share of the provincial funds will make its way to SD43 but he speculated that schools will be hiring teacher librarians, counsellors, student services and skill development teachers if B.C. teachers accept the deal reached on the weekend between the province and the BCTF.

"We'll have a lot more clarity in a few weeks," Christen said, "[but] we know what our language says — we've been looking at it since 2002."

Prior to 2002, when the BC Liberal government stripped class size and composition language from public school teachers' contract, the CTA contract language stipulated two fewer students for kindergarten to Grade 3 classes than provincial regulations and smaller shop and lab classes as well as size limits on classes for students with special needs.

Already, 53 full-time equivalent teachers have been hired in SD43 as a result of an interim agreement reached following the Supreme Court of Canada decision.

Christensen said there may not be enough teachers to fill all the jobs and it will likely take one to two years for local universities to fill the gap.

But he said the district has a good reputation and has been working with the CTA to attract and retain teachers.

As to the future, Christensen said he couldn't speculate on whether the language would be kept in the contract or negotiated out by a future government. The teachers' contract runs out in June 2019, leaving plenty of time for negotiations.

"A lot depends on the political landscape at the time and who's in power," he said.

The Tri-City News reached out to the school district Monday but hasn't yet heard back.

The CTA vote will conclude Thursday, with the results sent to the BCTF on Friday.

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