Divisions puts funds in classroom
Education: Classroom Improvement Fund a one-time grant part of negotiations
Wednesday, Sep 27, 2017 11:58 am
Teachers and administrators from their respective school divisions worked side-by-side to determine how to spend approximately $2 million in one-time funding for their classrooms.
Foothills School Division announced at its Sept. 20 public meeting how it will spend $971,000 from Alberta Education in the one-time Classroom Improvement Fund, which was created as part of recent provincial-wide teacher-salary negotiations. Meanwhile, Christ the Redeemer Catholic Schools has determined how it will spend its $1.262-million portion of the funds, which must be targeted to the classroom.
Precisely how the funds were to be distributed had to be a joint decision by teachers and division administrators (or board members) from the division.
“There was four of them and there were four of us – it was a great co-operative effort and we had some quick decisions,” said Michael Kilcommons, CTR Catholic associate superintendent, corporate services.
Those decisions have been approved by Alberta Education.
CTR Catholic has allocated about $600,000 for emergent staffing needs.
“We split that up in to two-thirds for certified staff (teachers) and the other third to support staff, for the most part EAs (education assistants),” Kilcommons said.
Emergent needs could include new students who have unique needs – such as English being a second language. Or, the funds could be used at schools which have unexpected growth.
“For example we split classes of 28 so we could make a better learning situation,” said Kilcommons, adding schools in the Okotoks area benefitted from that targeted funding.
CTR Catholic also spent just over $400,000 to what it called ‘Classroom Improvement Products.’
“We wanted to be certain that every classroom had the chance to benefit (from the funding),” Kilcommons said. “Essentially, we are giving each teacher $750 to improve the classroom.”
Whether it’s purchasing an iPad, Chromebooks or good old-fashioned books for the classrooms, the equipment has to target improved student learning.
“It’s not for the teachers, it is for the classroom,” he stressed.
Around $200,000 is going to what CTR Catholic calls per diem PD.
“It is giving teachers professional development on off-days, such as summer institutes,” Kilcommons said. “We have a long list of potential professional development programs.”
Allen Davidson, Foothills School Division assistant superintendent, employment services, said the joint committee meetings between the division and its teachers were fruitful and friendly.
The committee surveyed teachers during a four-day period in late August and received feedback from 285 respondents – about 65 per cent of the division’s ATA members.
Fifty per cent of the division’s $971,000 will go towards school discretionary funding for non-teaching staff.
That would include classroom composition, student needs in the classroom, literacy support and support for social, emotional and behavioural needs of the students.
A further 30 per cent will go towards school discretionary funding, which includes professional development. Also covered by the funding are materials and equipment to support students’ social and emotional needs. The remaining 20 per cent of the one-time funding will go towards hiring teaching staff where needed, such as unique classroom configurations or unexpected changes in enrolment figures at a school.
The Classroom Improvement funding was based on each of Alberta’s school divisions’ enrolment.
Approximately $75 million in total will be distributed to divisions across the province. The Alberta Teachers’ Association settled with the Teachers Employer Bargaining Association in May.