school board 

By Amy Fendley It will be the end of the first week of school before the Howe Sound school board knows how additional teachers will be allocated throughout the district’s schools. Based on projected student enrolments the province has provided the district with funding for an additional five non-enrolling teachers (counsellors, teacher-librarians, special education and ESL), and 2.5 new primary teachers. "We’ll take a snapshot Sept. 11 of class sizes," said Nancy Edwards, secretary treasurer of Howe Sound school district 48. "And if numbers come in accordance to our agreement, we will then decide how to divide the number of teachers among students." Edwards said that school board members met with the B.C. Public School Employer’s Association, the B.C. Teacher’s Federation and a provincial government representative last week to clarify what exactly they have been allowed for this school year. Edwards said it was made clear in the meeting that funding is finite, despite the Agreement in Committee pupil-teacher ratio announced in the contract the province hammered out with teachers. Finite funding for the school board means that the salaries of any new teachers hired will have to fall within the Agreement in Committee ratio. Edwards explains. "For example, if the average funding is $65,000 and we receive funding at $55,000, a new teacher salary has to meet the ratio. A teacher in a higher salary bracket won’t meet that ratio." The standard ratio for the Howe Sound district is divided as follows: One librarian for every 921 pupils, one counsellor for every 693 pupils, one learning assistant for every 397 pupils, one special education teacher for every 342 pupils. ESL teacher allotment will depend on student enrolment. "All of the secondary schools in the Howe Sound district, have staffed for counsellors at a greater level than the Agreement in Committee ratio," said Edwards. "Many of the choices we made with our regular funding have greatly affected any additional provincial funding we receive." Edwards explained that if a school is in great need of additional counsellors and the school board takes the necessary steps to get what is needed, and then the provincial government goes ahead and gives funding for 2.5 non-enrolling teachers, the district loses out by having more resources in one area while starving another. The projected student enrolment for the Howe Sound district this years is 4,559.5, including kindergarten students. The total budget for the district is up slightly this year, based on the increased enrolment projections. It works out to approximately $115 per student.

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