Northwest B.C. school trustees back teachers in battle with province

Coast Mountains school board asks gov't to "negotiate in good faith"

The Coast Mountains School District (CMSD) board of education voted unanimously last night to support teachers in their ongoing dispute with the provincial government.

In a motion tabled by Hazelton trustee Lynn Newbery at last night’s board meeting, trustees agreed to write a letter to Premier Christy Clark and education minister Peter Fassbender “stating that we believe that the government needs to fully fund K-12 education, that the government needs to begin negotiating in good faith with the BCTF (B.C. Teachers’ Federation), that the government needs to ensure that changes to class size and composition are implemented in a way that minimizes disruptions to students and families.”

The motion “refers to a situation that everyone in the room is aware of, it’s widely known,” said Newbery.

She’s referring to the chilly relations between the BCTF and the provincial government following a recent provincial supreme court decision in favour of the BCTF.

Justice Susan Griffin concluding in her ruling that the B.C. government did not bargain in good faith with the BCTF. She imposed a $2 million penalty on the government and struck down legislation restricting teacher bargaining of classroom conditions. 
The provincial government is appealing the decision, which education minister Peter Fassbender has said could cost the government $1 billion.

Meanwhile, the BCTF and the province began their latest round of bargaining earlier this month.

Teachers asked the board for a letter, said Newbery.

“We’re happy to do that,” she said. “I think I’ll just leave it at that. This may just be the first of several letters that we want to go to the government and the minister of education and the premier.”

Kitimat trustee Linda Campbell was pleased with the board’s decision to write a letter.

“I’m happy to see that we’re actually doing this, I think it’s very important for the students and also teachers, support staff workers, and every employee,” she said. “I believe it’s the right thing for us to do.”