Parents worry extra $50M funding for B.C. schools will do little for special needs students
Parents call for comprehensive plan to rectify special needs education funding shortfalls
Mission's Chantelle Morvay-Adams says Grade 4 has been tough for her son.
Through his first five years in public school, he was diagnosed with several learning disabilities.
He also doesn't have the support of an educational assistant — support she says he desperately needs since his teacher has to watch over the other 30 students in the class.
"Right now, as it stands, my son doesn't want to go to school anymore," said Morvay-Adams. "He's completely refused to go."
Morvay-Adams considered home-schooling her son. But she's hopeful the $50 million headed to B.C.'s public schools following a landmark deal between the B.C. Teachers' Federation and the provincial government might finally get him the support he needs.
- Province, BCTF agree on $50M for new teachers
- BCTF wins Supreme Court battle over class size and composition
"Will this money really go to some great specialized teachers? I really hope so ... I'm really crossing my fingers."
Hoping for the best
Circumstances like Morvay-Adams' are widespread says Tracy Humphreys of B.C. Parents of Special Needs Children.
- B.C. preschoolers with special needs left behind, says advocate
- 'A lot of kids' needs are not being met': Lots of labels, lack of resources for students with special needs
- B.C. looking to get new teachers in classrooms by end of January
According to the ministry's announcement, the dollars will go toward adding 1,000 teaching positions across the province, which could include special education teachers. But with nearly 1,600 schools in the province, Humphreys says the funding doesn't scratch the root of the issue.
"The [$50 million] doesn't deal with the frontline issues for special needs students. The lack of educational assistant time and training is not covered in any way by this funding ... and that's something that's dearly needed."
Psychologists and special needs teachers are in demand across all B.C. schools, and many parents wait years before their child gets a psychological assessment to determine if they qualify for assistance.
"I really feel there needs to be a more comprehensive plan in place to fix the system," she said.
The next steps
The provincial government and the BCTF will enter negotiations next week to determine how funding will be distributed in the years going forward.
And, the Ministry of Education says a broader plan is on the horizon.
"This is a first step ... but it will be part of a bigger package going forward," ministry spokesman Jason Keenan told CBC News.
He says it's too early to tell how funding will be allocated, but the BCTF claims supports for students with special needs and manageable class sizes is a priority.
With files from CBC's B.C. Almanac
To listen to the full interview, click on the audio labelled: Parents worry new school funding will do little for special needs students