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Staffing a top priority for CIF projects

December 5, 2017 ATA News Staff

The Association’s current #MyClassSizeIs campaign is drawing attention to not only the size of Alberta classrooms but also the complexity of student needs that exist within them. Through social media,  teachers are sharing information about their classrooms to raise awareness of learning and teaching conditions.

Some teachers have reported having more than 10 students over the recommended class sizes and wide ranges of student needs to meet. ATA president Greg Jeffery hopes teachers like these will get some relief this school year with the $75-million Classroom Improvement Fund (CIF).

It seems every year Alberta classrooms get more challenging,” Jeffery said. “Even in the centres where classrooms aren’t getting bigger, they are getting more complex because then you have combined grade levels. I’m hopeful the CIF will help teachers across the province get whatever resources, training and supports they need to meet the needs of students in their classrooms.

Some boards have not publicly shared a lot about how their CIF committees have decided to spend their funding. Others have shared information with the media or have made mention of it in reports or meeting minutes posted on their websites.

Information from a sampling of school boards indicates that staffing — certificated teachers and support staff — is a priority. Money has also been earmarked for professional development, as well as for classroom materials, resources and technology.

Northern Lights Local No. 15 president David Ripkens made sure teachers had input into how the CIF would be spent in Northern Lights Public Schools.

We polled the local membership soon after the announcement about CIF was made; Ripkens said. “Teachers made it clear that kids should have equal opportunity to benefit from the classroom improvement funds. For some that now means more teachers in their school; for others, it means literacy or technology resources at their fingertips.

Ripkens is content that the Northern Lights CIF committee (made up of an equal number of board and teacher representatives) did what was best for students.

Being granted CIF money was not a foregone conclusion,” he said. “The collaborative relationship between the ATA local and the school board created the conditions to make it happen. Kids get to reap the rewards. This is a textbook win-win.

What is CIF?

The Classroom Improvement Fund (CIF) was part of the central table agreement reached between the Alberta Teachers’ Association and the Teachers’ Employer Bargaining Association last May. The one-time grant is to be distributed among Alberta’s 61 school boards based on 2016/17 student enrolment. The amount of funds allocated to school boards ranges from $13 million (Calgary Board of Education) to $149,000 (Northwest Francophone Education Region).

To receive the funds, school boards and teachers had to strike a committee to jointly develop a proposal for how the money will be used in their school jurisdiction. The deadline to submit the proposals to Alberta Education is Dec. 15.

School board CIF amount   In the proposal Source 
Christ the Redeemer Catholic Schools  $1,262,000 $600,000 staffing
$229,000 professional development during summer months
$750 per school for “classroom improvement products”
Board meeting minutes
Sept. 12
Golden Hills School Division  $820,000 Projected allocation:
51% certificated staffing
39% support staff
7% substitutes and other
Board budget report
June 20
Pembina Hills Public Schools  $797,000 Cover shortfall in supports for students with learning and behaviour needs, including teachers, program assistants, resources and PD Barrhead Leader
Oct. 17
Northern Lights Public Schools  $736,000 Hiring additional teachers to address areas of need, e.g., assisting small rural schools with multiple-grade-level classrooms
Hiring support staff
Hiring of board assessment consultant
Resources and materials
Board media release
Nov. 1
Grande Yellowhead Public School Division  $594,000 Almost 80% of funds toward new materials for individual schools; the rest for in-house teacher PD initiatives  Board media release
Oct. 20

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