Erin Florko

Langley teachers hopeful about new deal with province

Voting begins this week in Langley on the new agreement.

Langley teachers are largely positive as they prepare to vote on a final deal that will put money and staff back into school districts.

Voting began Wednesday morning said Wendy Cook, president of the Langley Teachers Association (LTA).

The LTA and teachers around B.C. are voting on the tentative agreement between the BC Teachers Federation (BCTF) and the BC Public School Employers Association (BCPSEA).

Last November, B.C. teachers won a years-long legal battle to restore deleted contract provisions on class composition and size.

That means that the province is pouring money into hiring new teachers and support staff.

In January, the province put $50 million of interim funding into the education system to hire up to 1,100 teachers across B.C.

In Langley, that translated to about $1.72 million and the equivalent of 36 full-time teachers.

However, the number of teachers who accepted positions was 94, said district spokesperson Ken Hoff.

Some teachers accepted “top ups,” and saw their part-time hours increase to full-time, for example.

The new jobs included 10.6 full-time equivalent jobs created at secondary schools, 5.5 at middle schools, and 20.1 at elementary schools, according to the district. So far, 90 per cent of the jobs have been filled.

The district consulted with teachers about where more staff could be put to use.

“We tried to make sure every school got something,” said Cook.

Some of the district’s newer teachers were at a lunchtime meeting at the LTA’s offices on Friday.

Tanya Kerr said that after eight years working as a teacher, she’s now up to working a 100 per cent role for the first time.

Erin Florko, in her second year with the district, found out that her position will continue next year.

Sonu Sangha is hopeful that with the new contract, she’ll be kept on full time next year, as well.

More teachers will arrive if the agreement is approved, but there are issues.

“Some of the pitfalls are space,” said Cook. It won’t be easy to create new classes at some schools that are already at capacity – it may mean portables.