Extra Langley teachers and costs would be $23.5 million


The Langley School District would have to pay an extra $23.5 million to follow the recent B.C. Supreme Court ruling on class size and composition.

The B.C. government is appealing the B.C. Supreme Court decision of Jan. 27, which said the government violated the constitutional rights of teachers related to stripping the class size and composition requirements from a 2002 contract.

It took more than a decade for a court decision which the provincial government rejected, saying it would cost more than $1 billion to implement the ruling.

The Ministry of Education told school districts to cost out the implications of returning to the class size and composition levels.

The Langley School Board held a brief discussion of the matter at the public portion of the Feb. 25 board meeting.

Langley superintendent Suzanne Hoffman said the district was required to submit an affidavit of its cost estimates using the 2002 contract wording.

“Twenty three million dollars, should we be asked to do that for the coming school year,” she said.

At that board meeting, the district approved its amended 2013/2014 amended budget of $187 million to educate the district’s approximately 18,000 students.

“I think it’s an important step,” Trustee Megan Dykeman said about making the information public.

The affidavit says the district would need about 228.1 full-time equivilent teachers. Based on an average of $92,000 cost per teacher (wages, benefits and other costs), that comes to just over $20 million for staffing.

“We estimate that we may need up to 17 portables,” Hoffman’s document says.

Each portable costs $140,000 for purchase and set up.

If space can’t be found for the portables, students may have to be shifted to other schools and classrooms reassigned, such as turning a computer lab into a class.

She anticipates having to end the contracts with six preschool and daycare providers, a loss of $80,000 in income. Other income may be lost from reduced capacity for international students.

At the meeting, Langley Teachers’ Association president Gail Chaddock-Costello outlined the union’s view of the court ruling and its implications but did not present a cost estimate. The BCTF has said it would cost about $350 million.

Chaddock-Costello noted that the school district has had to close schools and make other significant changes in the past to meet education requirements. She said the courts have told the provincial government in three different rulings that it has erred and it’s time to start working together.

On Wednesday, the B.C. Court of Appeal issued a temporary stay the earlier B.C. Supreme Court decision. It remains in place until the province’s appeal is heard, likely May or June. The Supreme Court ruling struck down the government’s position, basically reinstating class size and composition requirements. 

As part of the case the BCTF could distribute secret documents of the B.C. cabinet. The stay prevents that.

The Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows School District, with about 14,900 students in 2011, has said the court decision would cost it another $5.48 million, according to its affidavit.

The $5.48 million consisted of the cost of hiring 36 full-time equivalent classroom teachers, at an estimated cost of $94,530 per teacher, totalling $3.4 million; and 22 full-time equivalent non-enrolling teachers, totalling $2.08 million. There may be additional costs for portables, depending on space needs.

Surrey has more than 69,000 students (as of September 2013). It’s affidavit estimate is $40 million for an extra 445 teachers and costs.

Langley school board chair Wendy Johnson said Langley did a school by school analysis which other districts did not.

“I think what we have is a much more accurate accounting,” she said.

– With files from Glacier Media’s Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Times.

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