Will the school bell ring?

School Trustees believe a negotiated end to strike still possible

As we head into the last two weeks of August, parents are understandably becoming somewhat worried about the BCTF labour dispute. Will school start on time or will other childcare arrangements need to be made?

The provincial government has offered $40 per day per child under 13 to help assist parents with childcare costs should school not start. The money will come from strike savings. The BC School Trustees Association (BCSTA) would prefer to see savings from the strike put into the class size issue. And a mediator is working with the BC Teachers Federation (BCTF) and the BC Public School Employers Association (BCPSEA) to try to resolve the labour dispute.

Both sides have agreed to media silence during negotiations.

Chair of the Rocky Mountain SD 6 Board, Jim Jenkinson says that the SD 6 Board shares the advocacy of the BCSTA.

“We are hopeful that the BCTF and BCPSEA are able to reach a negotiated settlement so that our students and staff will be back in school on September 2,” he said.

The BCSTA has prepared a back to school action plan and Jenkinson provided a copy to the Bulletin.

The plan calls for a negotiated settlement with teachers by August 31 so that the 2014-2015 school year can start on time.

The plan asks for movement on both sides — it requests the BCTF modify their wage and benefit increases so that they fall within the range of other public sector settlements; and it calls on the government to put all savings from the strike and lockout into a Learning Improvement fund that will put funds into class size and composition.

While the hope is there for a settlement, preparation time will be needed says SD 6 superintendent Paul Carriere.

“Certainly teachers will need time prior to the start of classes to get ready, and I would expect that those preparations will begin in haste from the time a negotiated settlement is reached until the time classes start,” he said. “The best case scenario would be that there will be a settlement the week before and school start-up will go ahead as usual. In our case a settlement would mean we will go ahead with three non-instructional/professional development days August 27-29 and classes would start on September 2. If the settlement does not occur by then we will have to see what unfolds in September.”