The Coquitlam Teachers' Association (CTA) president says School District 43 officials are not to blame for approving a budget Tuesday that will only partly restore services that were cut in previous years.
Charley King told The Tri-City News that SD43 continues to be underfunded — it is ranked 58th out of 60 school districts in per-pupil funding — but still managed to add some staff, including a psychologist and speech and language pathologist.
King said teachers are "frustrated by the whole situation" and noted there was little to comment on this year's budget, which will be used to run schools for the 2016/’17 year.
"I don't want to diminish the efforts to put more money into services — there are going to be more teachers and that's good — [but] I don't think parents should be breathing a sign of relief that we are back to where we are," King said.
Teachers had sought more library services, more teachers to support children with special needs and counsellors for students dealing with anxiety and other mental health issues.
But the $290-million budget passed by trustees did not include more services other than those added to the draft budget including: about a dozen classroom teachers, more lunchtime supervisors, increased administration time for principals and vice-principals, a school maintenance position and a technology co-ordinator.
The budget also includes $52 per student more provincial funding and additional funds from fees foreign students pay to offset a slight decline in enrolment and a requirement to pay off $1.5 million in operating debt and absorb $1.4 million to meet provincial expectations in administrative savings.
But board chair Judy Shirra said in a press release the district did what it could with funding and it continues to have one of the highest six-year graduation rates in the province.