Classroom improvements approved in half of school jurisdictions
School jurisdictions and teacher committees have been hard at work developing Classroom Improvement Fund (CIF) projects after the program was launched as part of the central table bargaining agreement reached in the spring. To date, 31 of the province’s 61 school jurisdictions have approved plans in place.
“Money is going into schools as it was bargained,” said Sandra Johnston, co-ordinator of the Teacher Welfare program area of the Alberta Teachers’ Association. “The parties are fulfilling the requirements of the agreement and we are seeing powerful engagement of teacher voice in directing how classroom funds will be used.”
The $75-million CIF grant is intended to improve the student experience in the classroom. In many cases, funding has been used in successful applications to hire additional teachers, educational assistants or paraprofessional support staff. Other programs are purchasing classroom resources or support materials, and some are creating new professional development opportunities for teachers.
“These proposals have identified a wide range
of opportunities to positively impact the student
experience in the classroom,” said Matt Beattie of Alberta Education.
The central agreement requires boards to establish CIF committees that include equal representation from the school jurisdiction and from teachers. Alberta Education recommends that proposals be clear and that they articulate how each proposed expenditure will improve the student experience. If a majority of committee members cannot agree on a proposal, then the board will not get its CIF funding.
“Where the process is working best, we have jurisdictions that are listening honestly to their teachers and asking them where the money will make the most difference,” said Johnston.
School jurisdictions that have not yet submitted a proposal will have until Dec. 15 to do so in order to access their portion of the provincial funding. Proposals that have been submitted and approved by Sept. 27 will begin to see disbursements starting in October. ❚