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(Canada) BC teachers assoc. negotiate contract; 'students...with autism has ballooned'

Oct 29, 2018, Kelowna (BC) Capital News: Central Okanagan trustees mum on teacher contract talks https://www.kelownacapnews.com/news/central-okanagan-trustees-mum-on-teacher-contract-talks/ The Central Okanagan Board of Education boardroom offered some insight last Wednesday to what could be a contentious round of upcoming negotiations on a new teachers’ contract. Susan Bauhart, president of the Central Okanagan Teachers Association, voiced her displeasure about a document circulated to school boards across the province earlier this year by the B.C. Public School Employers Association asking for input on “five big ideas” concerning the next round of contract negotiations. She voiced her frustration that among those ideas were teacher workload and professional teacher learning enhancement, which no trustees had sought her input about…. While the class size legal resolution has largely resulted in hiring more teachers, Bauhart said classroom composition remains a point of dispute overshadowed by a pending arbitrator’s ruling, expected by Jan. 31, 2019…. But BCTF president Glen Hansman said class composition still faces challenges that will require additional investment by the provincial government, and more attention by individual school districts. “Class composition is more complex because of differences in local collective agreement language as well as district student assessment and staffing processes. For example, about a third of our local teachers’ associations don’t have any class composition language. There are also differences among school districts in how employers implemented class-composition requirements,” Hansman said. In the past, the province has tracked the number of classes with four or more students with special needs. Comparing 2016-17 to 2017-18, the number of classes with four children with special needs has increased by 0.9 per cent. “B.C. teachers fully support the inclusion of children with special needs in our classrooms and the need for the specialized programs and staff that support them,” Hansman said. “The B.C. government and school districts need to put more efforts into creating classes that ensure all children get the attention they need. We should not be seeing this degree of inconsistency around the province, and it is always within the ability of the province and school districts to ensure services are in place for students above and beyond a bare minimum.” Bauhart noted that reinstated contract language was 16 years old, and much has changed in particular with classroom composition and demands for special needs and learning assistance students since then, changes that must be adapted to the next contract from the BCTF’s perspective. “For example, the category of students diagnosed with autism has ballooned from 16 years ago, so how do we deal with that?” she said. “The arbitrator’s ruling is expected to set a baseline for defining these special needs categories like autism, what each one means and how that is addressed in classroom composition.” …