Vancouver Elementary School Teachers' Association (VESTA)

Vancouver Elementary School Teachers' Association (VESTA)

April 07, 2006 15:06 ET

Vancouver Elementary Teachers' Association: Children Being Used as Pawns

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(CCNMatthews - April 7, 2006) - The Vancouver Elementary Teachers' Association (VESTA) is alarmed that the Vancouver School Board (VSB) plans to cut important services to vulnerable students while putting millions of dollars into its savings account.

VESTA President Mary McDermott is dismayed by this situation, saying: "I am troubled that children are being used as pawns in a political game between the VSB and the Ministry of Education."

The VSB wants to cut important Resource teacher positions, claiming that it has not received the funds promised by the provincial government as per the recommendations made by Vince Ready last fall.

Resource teachers are the ESL, Learning Assistance, and other specialist teachers that provide direct support to our most vulnerable students. These students are entitled to this support, and without it, all learners are affected - including those in the regular classroom.

It is VESTA's understanding that the funding granted by Vince Ready for class size and class compositions issues was to be recurring, and that additional funds would be given by the province to cover the cost of salary harmonization and rise in teacher-on-call pay.

It is also VESTA's belief that the VSB has received the class size and class composition funding from the Ministry, and that the district is merely choosing to use it inappropriately. Consider that:

- As detailed in its preliminary budget for 2006/2007, VSB management plans on cutting $2.27 million in Resource support, while also putting $2.74 million into a savings account.

- The VSB will now have $6 million sitting in its savings account unused, in addition to its tens of millions of dollars in non-school investment properties.

- At the same time the VSB is cutting teaching positions, they are also proposing additions to administrators, district office positions, and other non-teaching expenses.

- Enrolment in Vancouver schools has declined significantly less over the past few years than what the VSB and the Ministry of Education had projected. Over the 2004/2005, 2005/2006 school years, the VSB had projected a decline of 1000 students and based their staffing on that figure. According to the VSB, the actual decline was only 187 students over that period.

The final VSB budget is not approved until April 26. The elected school board trustees are able to change management's preliminary budget which does not meet the needs of learners.

"Now is the time for parents and the public to speak up," says Mary McDermott, VESTA President. "They should demand that the Vancouver School Board and the provincial government live up to their obligations to children."

Contact Information

  • Vancouver Elementary Teachers' Association (VESTA)
    Mary McDermott
    (604) 873-8378
    (604) 873-2652 (FAX)