Vancouver School Board lays off 167 teachers and staff to stave off $24-million shortfall

The Vancouver School board has laid off 167 teachers and support staff as part of its efforts to reduce a $24-million budget shortfall.

Province says more funding would come at expense of other school districts

VSB Chair Mike Lombardi says he hopes the province will provide more funding. (CBC)

The Vancouver School Board has laid off 167 teachers and support staff as part of its efforts to reduce a $24-million budget shortfall. 

The layoffs will lead to the termination of 37 teachers and 130 support staff, which includes social workers, special needs staff and cultural liaisons. 

VSB chair Mike Lombardi says that the teachers can still bid on other positions, but the support staff jobs will be gone unless more funds come in from the Minister of Education.

"If we are successful in getting additional funding from the Minister of Education, then this decision can be rescinded and we can keep the positions in place," Lombardi said.

He admitted the cuts were made reluctantly.

"These cuts will be devastating for the Vancouver school system," he said.  

But in a written statement, B.C. Education Minister Mike Bernier seemed unlikely to provide the school board with any additional funding.

"We can't provide extra funds to one district at the expense of all the others," he said.

Two weeks ago, the VSB voted against a controversial proposed budget that included cuts to programs, services and staff. 

The vote puts the future of the board in question, as the province requires a balanced budget and could call for the board's dismissal if it doesn't do so by June 30. 

The Vancouver School Board and the Minister of Education are in talks to try to balance the budget.

With files from Angela Sterritt.