B.C. teachers have jumped on board with a provincial benefits package, a move that will cost the Kamloops-Thompson School District about $160,000.
But secretary treasurer Kelvin Stretch assured the public Friday that classrooms won’t suffer to pay the amount.
“We’re not going to go out and hack and slash our budgets to pay for this,” he said.
Instead, the school district can draw from a $1.6-million surplus left over from dealings with the previous benefits provider to pay the amount, said Stretch.
“What that means is the district has that money set aside and we can use that to buffer the increases that we’re about expect,” he said.
The B.C. Teachers’ Federation adopted the B.C. Public School Employees’ Association’s Standardized Benefits Plan during the last round of contract talks.
Union locals used to be covered under plans arranged by the school districts, said Stretch. The association gave districts $115,000 to pay for the benefits, an amount that was enough for some districts but not others.
In the case of Kamloops-Thompson, the district pays $281,000. Even with BCPSEA kicking in $115,000, there is a difference of $166,000.
Kamloops-Thompson Teachers’ Association president Jason Karpuk said the BCPSEA benefits are an improvement.
For example, the previous package paid $8 toward physiotherapy appointments. Karpuk said the provincial benefits cover 80 per cent.
Although favourable for teachers, this is another example of the province offloading costs onto cash-strapped school districts, he said.
As always, Kamloops-Thompson will honour its expenses. Stretch is glad he has the means to do so.