Disputes cast shadow on school year

A work-to-rule campaign by public school teachers, set to begin on the first day of school, is only one dispute expected in education in the coming year.

BCTF president Susan Lambert and Education Minister George Abbott have a rocky year ahead.

VICTORIA – A work-to-rule campaign by public school teachers, set to begin on the first day of school, is only one dispute expected in education in the coming year.

The B.C. Teachers Federation confirmed Wednesday it will file strike notice to take effect Tuesday morning. The BCTF says phase one will be to refuse administrative duties such as meeting with principals, supervising playgrounds and writing report cards.

The union and the employers’ association are far apart on a range of issues, including salary and a list of benefit improvements sought by the BCTF.

One major point in dispute is the meaning of a B.C. Supreme Court decision handed down this spring on the government’s 2002 removal of class size and composition from teacher bargaining. BCTF president Susan Lambert says the decision means the government must add $336 million to the public school budget to guarantee a level of service.

“Teachers are determined in this round of bargaining to regain those lost services, jobs and resources to meet students’ needs,” Lambert said.

Education Minister George Abbott has repeatedly said any settlement must fit with the government’s “net zero” mandate that other public service unions have already accepted. Abbott said in an interview Wednesday that the BCTF is demanding “restoration of the world as it existed in 2001, and once that’s done, then they’ll start talking.”

Abbott said the court does not prescribe an outcome, but gives the two sides a year to work out a compromise.

On another long-running dispute, Abbott said he hopes to have amendments ready for the fall legislature session to revamp the B.C. College of Teachers. He said the current system still allows teachers who have complaints against them to surrender their teaching certificate, avoid a disciplinary record, and then get reinstated to teach in a different district later on.

A review of the college last year by Victoria lawyer Don Avison found that even teachers with criminal convictions, including one case of sexual assault of students and another of cocaine trafficking, were able to resume teaching.

A bright spot for the new school year is the completion of B.C.’s full-day kindergarten project, which is now available province-wide. There are 37,000 kindergarten students expected to enrol in the program, after a $150 million investment in classrooms and an operating budget expanded to $345 million.

Abbott said some parents were apprehensive about putting five-year-olds into a full-day school program, but the pilot program last year was well received.

“It was remarkable how the kids embraced play-based learning that is a part of the kindergarten program,” he said.

Just Posted

What’s Up: Things to see and do on Family Day

There’s plenty of fun to be had across the West Kootenay this coming long weekend!

Call a foul on cancer with the Pink Whistle Campaign

Local basketball referees are raising money for cancer research

Man found dead identified as Andreas Pittinger

Pittinger was known locally for hosting a radio show

Biologists discover another female calf in depleted South Purcell Mountain Caribou herd

Calf will be moved to Revelstoke maternity pens, then released

Man seriously hurt after police shooting near Nelson

Incident has been reported to provincial police watchdog

B.C. students win Great Waters Challenge video contest

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

B.C. athlete takes home gold in freestyle aerials at Canada Games

Brayden Kuroda won the event with a combined score of 121.65.

Cabinet likely to extend deadline to reconsider Trans Mountain pipeline

New round of consultations with Indigenous communities is coming

B.C. government provides $75,000 towards salmon study

Study looks at abundance and health of Pacific salmon in Gulf of Alaska

Murdered and missing honoured at Stolen Sisters Memorial March in B.C.

‘We come together to make change within the systems in our society’

UBC researchers develop inexpensive tool to test drinking water

The tricoder can test for biological contamination in real-time

Disgraced ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner released from prison

He was convicted of having illicit online contact with a 15-year-old North Carolina girl in 2017

B.C. communities push back against climate change damages campaign

Activists copying California case that was tossed out of court

Most Read