Local teachers protest government funding changes 

Teachers handed out apples to local businesses this week as part of a province-wide campaign against the government.

"We think the stripping of our collective agreement… (which) takes out class size limits and special education support is not right," said Marjorie Reimer, president of Howe Sound Teachers’ Association.

"That is now legislation.

"If you look around at our classrooms there is a huge cost to kids and in particular special needs kids whose needs are not being met, no question."

Reimer will be making a special presentation to the Howe Sound School Board’s next meeting to draw attention to this issue.

"There is a classroom in the district which has something like 10 kids who need extra attention," said Reimer.

"It is a split class plus they have put in two non-English speaking Korean kids. That is just nuts."

The class is taught by one teacher with the assistance of four rotating aids.

"That is another stress on teachers and it is not right," said Reimer.

The protest was part of a larger province-wide action day involving the Hospital Employees Union and teachers.

The collective agreements between public unions in the health care and education sectors and the province were repealed a year ago this week by the Liberal government of B.C.

One of the most significant aspects of the legislation was the decision by the government to grant teachers a pay increase but require school boards to fund it out of existing budgets, effectively creating a cut in the amount of money boards have to spend.

"Is it true that we cannot afford education in British Columbia?" asked Reimer rhetorically.

"Is it true that we can’t afford heath care? I don’t believe it.

"So what we are hoping is that parents and community members will take a good look at what is happening in classes and talk to the board, talk to their MLA, and suggest that there should be changes."

Teachers in Squamish and Pemberton also joined the day of action, which not only included the "An Apple from the Teachers" campaign but also gathered letters and petitions from supporters.

Those will be collected and sent by bus, along with other letters from other districts, to the opening of the Legislature in Victoria on Feb. 11.

Howe Sound teachers will also be sending a large apple on the bus to demonstrate their concerns.

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