News PG Teachers Association concerned about special needs funding SHARE ON: Cole Kelly, staff Thursday, Mar. 14th, 2019 Possible funding changes for students with special needs is one subject the Prince George Teacher’s Association will be discussing in Victoria. Prince George and Mackenzie will represent 15 of over 700 teachers to converge in BC’s capital on Saturday for the annual Teacher’s Federation meeting. President of the Association, Joanne Hapke, said the government is looking at removing designations for students. “The one thing these designations do is guarantee a minimum amount of support,” she said. “They want to look at averages instead of individual students. We don’t see this as being as supportive of our students. There’s a concern that if the government doesn’t fund each student and allow school districts to make those decisions themselves, that money won’t be spent on supporting students.” Another hot topic on the agenda has provoked heated debate across much of the province, but not in the Northern Capital, according to Hapke. Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) is an initiative aimed at educating students and teachers on issues regarding gender and sexuality in school children. In some communities, like Campbell River on Vancouver Island, there has been some public pushback against the program. “We are still working on our SOGI 123 curriculum and making sure that all students feel safe within our schools. There are still a number of schools out there, provincially, not locally, that are not recognizing the needs of all their students,” stated Hapke. “Once our school board trustees adopted inclusive policies, that really helped our teachers to be able to access this curriculum and present it in a supportive way in our districts. We don’t have the same concerns, especially public concerns, that other districts have.” Beyond those issues, the educators will be talking shop on union budgets, electing a new president and seeing presentations. “We will walk out with democratic decisions having been made and a unified voice in moving forward,” said Hapke.