More cuts to Vancouver teaching positions, more cuts to kids



    VANCOUVER, April 10 /CNW/ - "We are disappointed to see that the board is
proposing 132.6 FTE fewer teachers for September than are in schools right
now," continues Glen Hansman, President of the Vancouver Elementary School
Teachers' Association (VESTA). "That 132.6 FTE includes direct support to
schools' ESL students and students with special needs."
    The Board's proposed cut of 132.6 FTE in teaching staff will reduce the
number of teachers in the district by 4.1%. This includes 55 FTE to be removed
from the system due to a projected enrolment decline, 37.6 FTE derived from
so-called "one-time funding" serving students with special needs, and an
additional 40 FTE in proposed budget reductions. There is not a significant
reduction to management, administrators, non-school facilities, or overhead
costs contained in the proposed budget.
    "Whether there is a budget surplus or a deficit, monies should always be
allocated directly to students and their day-to-day needs," says Glen Hansman.
"Therefore, addressing any deficit must be done as far away from students in
their classrooms as possible."
    With those two caveats in place, VESTA makes budget recommendations in
several specific areas:

    CLASS SIZE/CLASS COMPOSITION ISSUES
    "The VSB needs to allocate sufficient funding to address class
composition issues such as exist right now in the district," says Glen
Hansman. "Presently, there are over 85 elementary classrooms and hundreds of
secondary classrooms in the District where there are four or more students
with special needs, and in the many classrooms in Vancouver where the majority
of students are ESL learners. This is not acceptable."

    EARLY IDENTIFICATION OF THE NEEDS OF YOUNG STUDENTS
    "The VSB must be ready to undertake early identification assessments of
children's needs within the first months of Kindergarten," says Glen Hansman.
"This means staffing the District adequately with Teacher/Psychologists,
Speech and Language Pathologists, Teacher/Counsellors and other behaviour
specialists so that identification and intervention occur in a timely manner.
We presently do not have adequate numbers of staff in these positions. Our
students deserve the best possible entry to school."

    A MENTORSHIP PLAN
    "The demographics of the teaching force in our district are changing,"
continues Glen Hansman. "For this District to remain attractive to teachers
there must be a comprehensive mentoring plan in place. Such a plan would
support teachers new to teaching, teachers experienced but new to our District
or teachers in unfamiliar assignments within our District - particularly those
new to Resource positions. VESTA recommends that the 2007/2008 budget contain
an actual dollar amount in order for a mentoring plan to be developed."

    A FOCUS ON TEACHER/LIBRARIAN SERVICES
    "Presently, our District has four Literacy Programs, a Teacher/Librarian
Consultant and a school-based library resource budget but something important
is missing," says Glen Hansman. "There is no stated level of Teacher/Librarian
service available at each school. Teacher/Librarian time is folded into a
general fund given to schools lumped in with ESL and Resource Teachers. We
must recognize the importance of school libraries by explicitly stating the
staffing allocated for them at the school level so that this important service
is not eroded further."

    TOC COVERAGE FROM DAY ONE OF AN ABSENCE
    "The learning of at-risk children relies on continuity," argues Glen
Hansman. "Therefore it is imperative that TOC coverage be provided for each
and every absence, and this should be accounted for in the VSB's budget.
Presently, ESL and Resource teachers are not replaced until they have been
sick for a couple of days."

    A BALANCE IN STAFF REDUCTION
    "Vancouver is management heavy. If there must be a decrease in teaching
staffing, there will be a commensurate decrease in management staffing,"
insists Glen Hansman. "This includes the number of principals and
vice-principals, and how these positions are allocated. The VSB needs to take
a serious look at how efficiently and effectively its management staffing is
used."

    ADVOCACY FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION
    "Most importantly, VESTA urges the VSB to resume its leadership role in
advocating boldly for public education," says Glen Hansman. "This includes
seeking from the Minister adequate funding to address the actual needs of the
students in our District. This is the first step to rebuilding the confidence
of families in our Vancouver schools. It is trustees' advocacy in promoting
public schools that will stop the spiral of student loss. In turn this would
stabilize our neighbourhood schools and maintain them as the heart of each
community."
    "We ask that the VSB re-consider its proposed budget with the above
recommendations in mind," he concludes.





For further information:

For further information: Glen Hansman at (604) 873-8378 (Monday-Friday),
(604) 813-5318 (cell), or glen@vesta.ca

Organization Profile

VESTA: VANCOUVER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEACHERS' ASSOCIATION

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