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School district formulating next year's budget amid increasing teacher shortages

Richmond School District is to receive around $248 million from the provincial government for the upcoming school year.

The Richmond Board of Education is being urged to keep teacher and support staff shortages in mind as they discuss the budget for the upcoming year.

This was the message representatives of the Richmond Teachers Association (RTA), the union for school support staff (CUPE 716) and the Richmond Association of School Administrators brought up at last week's school board meeting.

The Richmond School District expects more than 400 new students next year amid growing concerns about staff shortages affecting school districts province-wide.

The district estimates total revenues of $280 million and $277 million in expenses for the upcoming school year.

A report presented at last week's board of education meeting stated the majority of the revenue increase will be used to cover the increase in staff costs, including more teaching staff positions.

For the 2024-2025 school year, the Richmond School District will receive an estimated $248 million operating grant from the B.C. Ministry of Education and Child Care, up from around $234 million in 2023/24.

The ministry has increased per-student funding by 3.4 per cent this year, a $290 increase to $8,915 from last year's $8,625.

This announcement came on Thursday. The total provincial education budget for next year is about $7 billion.

The unions and the administrators association were giving input into next year's school district budget at the board meeting last week.

Liz Baverstock, president of the teachers' union, said she would like to see on-going action as opposed to one-time additions when it comes to keeping teachers within the school district.

"Our focus has been on recruitment (and) retention for 25 unassigned or TTOC positions as part of your consideration," said Baverstock.

She described this as a low-cost model to "secure teachers and make sure teacher positions can be filled."

"There's no funding for public education to support strategies to find ways to recruit and retain support staff into the system," she added.

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