It is now clear that school will not start on September 2 as scheduled. The BC Teachers Federation and the BC Public School Employers Association, working since summer 2013 under the auspices of the provincial government, have failed to come to agreement on a new contract. Our local teachers association has now confirmed that picket lines will be up at all school and district sites on September 2. We expect those picket lines to be up for at least the remainder of this week.
What happens the week of September 8 is yet to be determined but will of course hinge on what happens through negotiation or possibly mediation. Note that with the exception of both SIDES campuses and the Broadmead campus of ILC which are closed, administrators will be in schools available to answer questions and of course to attend to any children who show up. However, we are requesting for safety reasons that no students attend school during the strike.
I believe that we all have a role to play in seeing this impasse through to resolution. Teachers are pressing hard for a deal and exercising their legal right to withhold services as part of labour negotiations. Government is involved directly through BCPSEA whose representatives in the bargaining process remain ready and willing to get a deal. Our board continues to provide pressure and support, as do our school and district administrators through their provincial associations, where it is hoped that some direct advice to government is making a difference.
As parents and community members you have a role to play as well, primarily through informed advocacy and community dialogue including with your elected officials. To be fully informed, please see the parties’ statements and positions at www.bctf.ca and www.bcpsea.bc.ca including extensive background information posted over the past two days. For clarity, you can see both parties full bargaining proposals posted on the BCPSEA website on June 15, 2014. In terms of a current contentious issue, note that BCPSEA proposal E80 remains (embedding learning improvement funds of $75million per year into the contract for five years), while E81 (either party being able to cancel the contract after conclusion of the class size and composition court case) has been withdrawn. The BCTF is seeking a more favourable solution to class size and composition matters, as explained on their website and in the media.
In the meantime, thank you for your patience. And thank you to our community partners in childcare centres, daycare program providers, Saanich recreation and Peninsula recreation for extending their summer programs and supports into this week and beyond as necessary.
Dr. Keven Elder
Superintendent of Schools and CEO