VICTORIA – With record-high levels of funding for more teachers and support staff, and smaller class sizes compared to two years ago, British Columbia students are getting better support in their classrooms.
“An investment in education is an investment in our future, and everyone benefits when students have the best possible chance to succeed,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. “After years of underfunding and neglect, our government’s investment in student success is starting to pay dividends in outcomes and opportunities, especially for students with special needs and Indigenous learners. And we aim to do more.”
Schools are receiving $6.6 billion to support students during the next school year, $1 billion more than two years ago. This is a total increase of 17.1%, while enrolment has grown 3.2%. For the first time since 2006, all 60 school districts are forecasted to see an increase in funding for the coming school year.
For the next school year, the ministry estimates school districts will receive $570.9 million to ensure appropriate staff is in place to support students with special needs, a 23% increase over the past two years. The number of classes with an educational assistant has increased by 37% in the past two years. Outcomes for students with special needs are showing steady improvements, with 71% of students with special needs completing high school last school year, up from 44% 10 years ago.
Targeted funding to support Indigenous students is estimated to rise to $89 million next school year, for a 27% increase over the past two years. Indigenous students in B.C. are completing secondary school at the highest rate ever, with a completion rate of 70%. This is 4% higher than the year before and 8% higher than it was four years ago.
Rural school districts are receiving $295 million for the next school year to assist with the unique challenges they face supporting students and staff. This amount is $23 million more than two years ago. Government is providing $150,000 to the BC Public School Employers’ Association to develop a recruitment plan that promotes the placement of student teachers in rural districts for their practicums.
“This is a great time to be a student in B.C.’s education system,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. “We are investing more in classrooms than ever before, so all students have the opportunity to reach their full potential.”
Smaller class sizes and student enrolment growth has led to a 14% increase in the number of public school classes in British Columbia. To support these new classes, government has invested over $400 million annually for school districts to hire almost 4,000 new teaching positions, including 500 special education teachers and 190 more teacher psychologists and counsellors. An additional 1,000 education assistants have been hired in the past two years.
To help address long-standing recruitment and retention challenges for specialist positions, government has invested $3.5 million to create about 250 new seats in teacher education programs in B.C. post-secondary institutions. These seats will help fill demand by training 70 special education, 20 secondary math and physics, 74 French and about 85 Indigenous educators. These are in addition to more than 1,500 potential new teachers graduating each year from B.C. universities.