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School district readies to deal with strike

SCHOOL DISTRICT officials are meeting today to decide if schools will be open next week or not now that teachers have said they're going on a three-day strike.

First indications here were that schools here will be closed but education minister George Abbott, in a statement late this morning, said schools will be open.

Coast Mountains school board chair Art Erasmus does say principals, vice principals and unionized support staff will still be on the job.

He said the biggest concern right now is the safety of students.

“Parents are pretty resilient,” said Erasmus of how families will cope if schools closed. “We'll made it work. That's generally what parents do.”

Although the Labour Relations Board has ruled teachers can strike, it has prohibited teachers from preventing people from entering school buildings.

Teachers this morning gave two days notice of their three-day strike. After that, they can strike one day a week.

At the same time, the province has said its back to work legislation could be in place late next week.

The legislation prevents further strike action while a mediator attempts to find common contract ground.

Next week's strike is a further attempt by teachers to put pressure on the provincial government as the two parties remain miles apart in bargaining a new contract.

The major sticking point is a provincial government wage freeze. It says the only way teachers will make more money is if they can find savings elsewhere in their collective agreement.

Since September B.C. teachers have been refusing to perform administrative and supervisory tasks.

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