Trustee speaks out for special needs

By on February 14, 2017
Okanagan Falls Trustee Sam Hancheroff blamed provincial funding, but he argued that the school closure issue came up in 2010 and not enough was done by the community since to address the original problems, which have worsened. He voted against the motion to delay the decision for a year and for the motion to close Osoyoos Secondary School. Chair Marieze Tarr said parents didn't want the uncertainly of a delay, so she voted against it. After speaking on both sides of the issue, in the end she voted against the school closure. (Richard McGuire photo)

Okanagan Falls Trustee Sam Hancheroff raised the issue of special needs children falling through the cracks. (Richard McGuire file photo)

A retired teacher hopes that special needs students do not fall through the cracks like many did since 2002.

Sam Hancheroff, a school trustee who represents Okanagan Falls, raised the issue at a recent board meeting in Oliver.

He told the Oliver Chronicle that in 2002 the government stripped clauses from the teachers contract dealing with class size, class composition (the number of special education students in the classroom), and the number of specialist teachers.

“I believe that many of our special needs students may not have received all the services they might have with the additional funding, thereby compromising possibly their education and that of other students.”  Hancheroff said funding started a slow leak, class composition was not addressed and the services of specialty teachers and certified education assistants were reduced.

Hancheroff noted that from 2002 to 2016 the province had several ministers of education. “Unfortunately, for 14 years some of these students were not given all that they should have been, though many school administrators and teachers tried to stretch what they were given and make it work.”    

In November 2016 the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision favoured BC teachers pertaining to bargaining class size and composition. After the ruling the government and teachers reached an agreement to provide $50 million to immediately begin hiring teachers and improve student supports.

Hancheroff said the court ruling is the first step in the right direction.

“But unfortunately it cannot make up for the shortfall between 2002 and the present, especially for students who were affected by it.”

LYONEL DOHERTY

Special to the Times

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