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Impact of ruling would be 'significant' for Chilliwack school district

School District No. 33 - Times-file
School District No. 33
— image credit: Times-file

The Chilliwack school district would face “significant” costs if it were required to abide by a B.C. Supreme Court ruling that restores class-size limits and class composition to pre-2002 levels.

Last month, Justice Susan Griffin ordered the provincial government to immediately reinstate parts of B.C. teachers’ 2002 contract, which would reduce current class sizes and increase support for students with special needs.

To implement those changes, the Chilliwack district would not only have to hire more staff; it would also have to pay for new portables to accommodate more classes, according to board chair Walt Krahn.

“We have done a complete analysis of the costs of not only additional teachers, but also additional portable classrooms,” he said. “We have, of course, no vacancies, we’re at full capacity south of the freeway. We have virtually no empty classes, and so the impact would be very significant.”

The district was asked by the provincial government to come up with a complete analysis of the potential impact of the ruling two weeks ago, Krahn said, and the details were discussed by the board in camera last Tuesday.

He said the district knows how many teachers and extra classrooms it would need and how much it would all cost, but that that information was being kept secret for now because it is part of the negotiations between the B.C. Teachers’ Federation and the province.

He did reiterate that the costs would be “significant.”

“The numbers are significant for additional staff and the numbers are also significant for our capacity concerns,” Krahn said.

The province is in the process of appealing Griffin’s decision, and on Wednesday was granted a stay on reinstating pre-2002 class-size and composition levels for next year.

 

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