THE SCHOOL board is looking to the provincial government to bring a resolution to the teachers’ strike that has gone on for nearly a year.
At its last meeting, the Coast Mountains School District #82 passed a motion to do just that and board chair Art Erasmus stresses that the board is in no way asking for the government to legislate the teachers back to work.
“I think it’s a recognition that negotiations are not moving forward and it does not appear there will be an imminent resolution to the dispute,” he said.
Erasmus did caution that the school district is a bystander because the negotiations are going on between the province and the provincial teachers’ union.
“One of the things we’ve been very careful about is not to take sides because both sides have legitimate concerns for their sides,” said Erasmus.
The motion, entitled “Resolution of the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) strike in BC’s public schools through immediate government action,” will be debated by school trustees across the province the end of this month.
If adopted, it will be sent to the provincial government.
The motion asks trustees to “approach the Minister of Education to request an immediate resolution of the BCTF strike through intervention by the BC Legislature for a full return to work.”
Teachers have been refusing to do some extracurricular duties and other tasks, such as playground supervision and preparing report cards, to back demands for wage increases and smaller class sizes.
One point contained in the board’s rationale attached to the motion stated “the image of public education in BC, the backbone of our democratic society, is being made a mockery of by the unprofessional display of ineptness at the bargaining table and by the lack of focus on what really matters in this dispute – our learners.”
In response to a question from the floor at the Jan. 25 school board meeting, Kitimat trustee Raymond Raj said the point referred to both the province and teachers’ union.
Other points raised by the board as reasons for the motion are as follows:
* assessing and reporting student performance to parents have been interrupted and are taking place inconsistently across BC;
* good communication between professionals in schools, which is essential to planning the best possible educational opportunities for students is not taking place;
* excluded staff, many without a background in education, have the responsibility for the supervision of students outside instructional hours. The result is deteriorating student behaviour in increasingly less safe schools;
* excluded staff are also marking and invigilating FSA and provincial exams in addition to their regular work;
* because staff are working in schools core work is suffering.
* school principals and vice-principals, the key leaders are being expected to pick up the slack and work endless hours to keep schools functioning smoothly.