Teachers and support staff decide how to use Learning Improvement Funding

The district received $323,303 from the Ministry of Education, which they will use on more teaching staff, and consultation time.

Teachers and support staff employed in School District 52 have decided what they will use their portion of the Learning Improvement Fund (LIF) on.

The district received $323,303 from the Ministry of Education, which they will use on more teaching staff, and consultation time.

The LIF was implemented to ease the challenges in classrooms. Teachers and support staff could choose to use funds for hiring additional staff, providing teaching time, or supporting professional development and training for teachers. The government will give $195 million over three years, providing $60 million to be allocated to classrooms with the highest needs this fall. In 2013, another $60 million will be distributed and in 2014 $75 million will be given out.

The Prince Rupert District Teachers Union (PRDTU) received $254,306, and chose to use funding to increase teaching time. There are currently 153 full time equivalent (FTE) teachers in the district, which is up from last September when there was 147.

Joanne Larson, president of the PRDTU, said although the funding will help, it doesn’t make up for the cuts to the education system.

“The funding is such a small pittance from what has been taken away from education over the last decade. While it does offer some moderate relief in the classroom, it certainly does nothing to mitigate the circumstances back to before the language was stripped,” Larson said.

The International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 882 received $41,503 from the LIF, which they decided to spend on before-and-after-bell meetings with child care workers and study centre workers to consult with learning resource teachers.

“They never get a chance to meet during school time, so this gives them extra time to,” Colleen Wiens, service rep and chief shop steward of IUOE Local 882, said, adding when child care and study centre workers met with learning resource teachers it meant students would be without assistance during that time.

Weins said that this funding does not relieve any tension between support staff and the government because they still aren’t being offered any of their requests they’re bargaining for.

$34,508 of the LIF was put into reserve, with decisions on what to use this portion of funding happening in conjunction with the change of terms at the middle school and the semester change at the high school.