Teachers on full strike

An impasse at the bargaining table has resulting in a strike that may end the school year two weeks early this year.

From left CUPE support workers Charlene Boyo and Kathy Martin support K-1 teacher Malayna Gross (holding Captain Teddy) and Boundary District Teachers Association President Norm Sabourin on the first day of the teacher’s strike outside Midway Elementary.

Norm Sabourin, President of the Boundary District Teachers Association, expressed disappointment that contract negotiations had broken down over the weekend.

“We had been really hopeful that our revised package would be enough to get the ball rolling and get deal over the weekend. That did not happen. We are still hoping that we can salvage even a few days of this year. We still would like to see a fair deal worked out at the table.”

He said there is a mixture of sadness, extreme anger and frustration on the picket line. “But we have a firm resolve that we are doing what is right for public education.”

“We left the ball in the employers’ court,” Sabourin said on Tuesday afternoon while walking a picket line outside Midway Elementary School. “They are saying they left it in our court, but when they come back with a counterproposals that are actually worse than their original ones it is pretty hard to take it seriously.”

Sabourin said updates from the union side can be found online at the BCTF Facebook page.

School District 51 (Boundary) Superintendent Kevin Argue told the Times that principals and vice principals at both high school will be supervising provincial exams for Grade 10 through 12 students. The Labour Relations Board (LRB) declared the exams an essential service.

“There is always hope,” said Argue on Tuesday afternoon as provincial news sources were reporting the two sides were back to the negotiating table.

“If they are talking there is a chance something can happen. It was a bit of a shocking potential end to the year when the BCTF announced the study session for this Monday. We had basically one day’s notice to bring the system to a halt, possibly for the year.”

“There is an ongoing strike that started as of today and until we get further notice the only students entering schools will be writing Grade 10 to 12 provincial exams,” explained Argue.

Information updates will be posted on the district Facebook page and the two high school webpages (accessed through www.sd51.bc.ca).

Argue said district administration is hopeful that things get settled and that kids get back in the schools before June 30th.

When asked if there was any talk of having students make up the time lost at a later date Argue said, “At this time we haven’t heard of any kind of a make-up plan and in all of our previous job action/strike situations we haven’t had make-up days added on. If last Thursday is the last day of school that will just be the way the year ends.”

He said report cards are on hold for right now for most students, however teachers of Grade 12 students must submit their marks as part of the LRB essential service order so that they can get into transcripts for students reporting out.



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