Teachers in School District 43 are rallying on the streets of Coquitlam after hundreds were handed layoff notices.
Hundreds of teachers gathered along Como Lake Road in Coquitlam, waving at motorists, and wearing signs with a number: those numbers indicate layoffs, and 632 layoff notices were handed out this year.
Teachers say they are fearful of the impact job cuts could have on students.
Most are wearing black, and the rally is called “March to Mourn BC Ed.”
The Coquitlam Teacher’s Association says while layoffs are common, the sheer number this year makes the situation unprecedented.
The association blames underfunding from the provincial government to keep up with cost pressures, noting the district was faced with a 13.4 million dollar funding shortfall this year.
The Superintendent of School District 43 says the bloodletting of staff will, for some, be permanent, unlike years past.
Tom Grant says out of 632 teachers who received layoff notices somewhere between 60 to 80 will not be rehired in September.
Grant says it is not just teachers as pink slips went out to school support workers as well.
“We have let go 200. Many of those are part time and so there will be bumping throughout the system probably from now until September as well. There will probably be 40 to 50 fewer of those in the fall as well.”
“The primary reason from our perspective is that we are having to make $13 million worth of reductions and 92% of our budget is staffing and so you see the reductions at the support staff, your administration, and your teachers.”
Aside from budget cuts Grant says fewer retirees this year is also making things difficult.