Text of remarks in support of Board of Education letter

I’m speaking on behalf of the district parent advisory council.

We were pleased to support the district’s call for a sustainably funded Public Education system, which meets the needs of students and the community.
We want adequate and sustainable funding to the district, and we want our student’s needs met. Continue reading “Text of remarks in support of Board of Education letter”

BCCPAC Media Release on New Bargaining Structure

June 23, 2014

MEDIA RELEASE: BCCPAC’s Position on the Call for a New Bargaining Structure and the Appointment of a Mediator.

The BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils (BCCPAC) applauds the Premier’s directive to Education Minister Peter Fassbender to restructure the collective bargaining process with the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF).

It won’t be easy, but it’s definitely what parents want to see. BCCPAC also fully supports the BCTF’s call to have a mediator appointed to help solve the ongoing contract dispute and is pleased that government has agreed to this request. Preferably this will be someone both sides can agree on. We hope this will result in a settlement negotiated at the table before the end of June.

In response to our recent survey about the current situation, PAC leaders from hundreds ofschools around the province made it clear they want the bargaining process reformed so thatstudents are not caught in the middle. That was the top answer to the survey question: “What is your PAC’s position on the current labour dispute?” Calls for reform, followed by calls for anend to the current labour dispute, outnumbered the responses that sided with one party or theother.

“Parents want an end to the continual turmoil that disrupts our children’s education and asettlement to the current dispute. This broken, confrontational bargaining system has hurtchildren and families for too long and it must be fixed. If there is a crisis in BC education, this isit,” President-elect Nicole Makohoniuk emphasized.

We hope that both sides will agree to a full media blackout while this round of negotiationscontinue, including an end to any advertising by either side. We wish all parties every success in revising the bargaining structure so that students never again face the situation they are in today. BCCPAC is ready to help find a solution and looks forward to being involved in this discussion.

Our December 2012 submission to the Provincial Government on this topic has more detail:http://www.bccpac.bc.ca/sites/default/files/bccpac_position_paper_on_bcteacher_bargaining_structure_final.pdf

Please contact our office at info@bccpac.bc.ca or 604-687-4433 if you have further questions.
Media Contact:


Visit BCCPAC online at http://www.bccpac.bc.ca/
twitter.com/bccpac  facebook.com/yourbccpac.

Exams and marks

The school district has information posted on their website about exam schedules: http://www.sd57.bc.ca/fileadmin/cao.sd57.bc.ca/District_Info/June_Provincial_Exam_Schedule_2_2.pdf

Update on marks for grade 10 and 11 students: http://www.bcpsea.bc.ca/publications/overview/whats-new/14-06-20/Labour_Relations_Board_Order_Issued_Today_Regarding_Marks_for_Grade_10_and_11_Students.aspx

It is unclear when other students would receive any marks at this point.

Message from PGDTA

Posted as received from PGDTA.

All Together Rally Tuesday

Good Evening.

There will be a “All Together for Public Education Rally” on Tuesday June 24 at 6PM at the Prince George School Board Office- 2100 Ferry Ave

We are calling on the Union Leaders in our Community to come and take a stand with the Teachers for Public Education.

We would like to see the Brothers and Sisters in BC Federation of Labour stand up with us against this BC Liberal Government.

We are hoping to see Parents and the Community rally with us.
Public Education is under attack and the Teachers need your help.

We are hopeful for a big turn out at the School Board Office on Tuesday June 24th at 6PM, prior to the Board Meeting.

Thank you for passing this message along to your networks.

With much appreciation and solidarity.

Tina Cousins

PGDTA President

Prince George District Teacher’s Association

Monday evening: No deal so far

Bargaining information, including history of proposals: http://www.bcpsea.bc.ca/bc-teachers/teacher-collective-bargaining.aspx

BCPSEA Backgrounder – key proposals compared: 00-DS-Backgrounder-What’s Really on the Table-Bargaining Proposals June 16 2014

BCPSEA Backgrounder – costing the proposals: http://www.bcpsea.bc.ca/documents/teacher%20bargaining/Bargaining%20Bulletin/00-Backgrounder-BCTF%20Proposals-Costing-June%2016%202014.pdf

Background information from BCTF: http://www.betterschoolsbc.ca/



“Call me contrary, but I’m going to start with the good news out of the weekend talks between the B.C. Teachers’ Federation and the bargaining arm for the B.C. Liberal government.

The union started off on an encouraging footing Friday with a significant reduction in its expectations on the wage front. The bargaining team dropped a demand for built-in cost-of-living increases, for which there was next to no precedent in modern-day bargaining in the public sector.

Then the union announced that it was prepared to accept a five-year deal, another big move considering that the BCTF initially wanted just a three-year deal before going to four.

The shift recognized an important goal of the Liberals, that of obtaining public sector deals extending well beyond the next election. The teacher contract expired June 30 of last year; five years would carry it though to the summer of 2018.

So far so good. After a lengthy back and forth, the government tabled a revised offer Sunday evening that reflected a significant shift on the part of the Liberals.

They boosted the overall wage offer to teachers from a no-strings-attached 6.5 per cent over six years to 7 per cent. More importantly, they front-end-loaded the schedule of raises so teachers would get 1 per cent July 1 and 2 per cent next February for 3 per cent over the first year and a half or so of the term….”


“After a weekend of bargaining between the government and the teachers’ union, Monday dawned with a rare glimmer of hope for resolving the strike/lockout and preventing a full-scale shutdown of the school system.

Both sides went into the crucial bargaining sessions saying they wanted an 11th-hour deal and were willing to budge from their positions to get it. Progress appeared to be made and things seemed to be looking brighter for a change.

But then it all went from the frying pan into the fire.

“The strike is imminent,” said union president Jim Iker, adding the government didn’t seem to want a deal after all.

“It was all talk. The government was unprepared, unwilling and ultimately unhelpful.”

Iker accused the government of actually reducing its wage offer to teachers from 7.25 per cent over six years to just seven per cent.

“They went backward instead of forward,” Iker said.

That triggered an angry response from Peter Cameron, the government’s lead negotiator, who stopped just short of calling Iker a liar.

Cameron said the government’s initial wage offer was just 6.5 per cent, plus a .75-per-cent top-up if the teachers agreed to reduced sick pay.

When the union balked at the sick-pay concession, the government took it off the table and bumped up the wage offer to seven per cent, meaning the teachers were getting a better total wage offer, not a worse one.

“How is seven per cent going backwards from 6.5 per cent?” Cameron asked. “It’s completely wrong and Jim Iker must know it’s wrong. I can’t characterize that as anything other than a misrepresentation.”

Ugly stuff. Forget that glimmer of hope. This dispute is nastier than ever now, and the two sides are still far apart.


No school Monday; Strike still on Tuesday as of morning


Public school students across B.C. will not be in classrooms this morning [Monday] as negotiations continue between teachers and the government.

The two sides bargained throughout the weekend at a downtown Vancouver hotel.

Today, teachers are holding study sessions and a full scale strike could begin if a deal isn’t reached by tomorrow.

The teachers’ union served the required 72 hours strike notice last Thursday, after the province’s 41,000 teachers voted 86 per cent in favour of escalating job action.

Things have gone quiet since Friday, with negotiations taking place behind closed doors. Global BC Legislative Bureau Chief Keith Baldrey says “no news is good news.”

The BCTF has apparently lowered their wage proposal, but still not to a level that is acceptable to the province. A counter-offer is expected to be presented to the BCTF tonight.

Baldrey says up until now, most of the conversation at the bargaining table has been about compensation, and not about class size and composition.

If a deal is not reached tonight, talks will continue tomorrow unless one of the parties walks away from the table.


Strike updates – Full Strike apparently starting Tuesday


British Columbia’s teachers intend to launch a full-scale strike beginning next Tuesday, potentially keeping students across the province out of the classroom for the remainder of the school year.

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation told its more than 40,000 members in an email Wednesday evening that the union planned to serve 72-hour strike notice.

A day earlier, the union announced teachers had voted overwhelmingly in favour of a full-scale walkout, after several weeks of one-day strikes that rotated between the province’s school districts.

“We believe that at this time, the best way to increase the pressure at the bargaining table is with increased job action,” the union email said.

“Given growing public support, our high strike vote, our determination and resolve, it is time to act.”

The email said bargaining is expected to continue “non-stop” throughout the weekend and it’s possible an agreement could be reached before next Tuesday.

However, the email also advised teachers to retrieve any personal items they might require during the summer before they leave at the end of the week.



“Next steps
The BCTF Executive Committee met today to discuss our next steps. The BCTF bargaining team has reviewed and revised our bargaining package. As we have stated repeatedly bargaining is about compromise, but only if compromise moves us forward. We believe that at this time, the best way to increase the pressure at the bargaining table is with increased job action. Given growing public support, our high strike vote, our determination and resolve, it is time to act.

The Executive Committee has decided that June 16 will be a study session day throughout the province as part of Stage 2 action. The study session will give members the opportunity to review our revised bargaining package. Furthermore, we suggest during the study session that members take the time to do what you are doing so well. Continue to tell your stories about life in classrooms and schools. Send these stories to local and provincial media, write to MLAs and trustees, post on Facebook, and tweet to your followers. Your local will organize the study sessions and your local president will send you information once plans are in place.

We are also serving three working days notice to proceed with full strike action beginning Tuesday, June 17. We believe that the combined actions of bargaining hard and the solidarity of standing together are the key ingredients needed to get a deal that works for teachers and for our students before June 30 and hopefully sooner.

Please know that both parties are currently involved in discussions. Our intention is to bargain non-stop throughout the weekend. We believe that a small, but important window to negotiate a fair deal exists and we want to take every opportunity to get that deal. We will continue to provide members with any new information.

As a precaution, however, and because the situation is so fluid, the Federation recommends you take personal items that you will need during the summer home with you this week.”



“…But if binding arbitration was to be used today, it presumably would include many more cost items, not the least of which would be the thorny and expensive issues of class size and class composition. The fact both parties likely fear that an arbitrator could rule against their self-interest on these issues is another big reason for the lack of enthusiasm for that model.

And frankly, I’m not sure binding arbitration could adequately deal with the class size/composition situation. That’s because it’s a very complex issue, and it’s as much about a philosophical split between the employer and the union as it is about funding.

The BCTF wants fixed rules in place that govern how many special needs students can be in a particular classroom, while the employer argues the system needs flexibility to deal with what can  be  very complex situations (the employer also argues fixed ratios are actually discriminatory against special needs kids).

The union’s position inevitably translates into more classrooms being created, and therefore more teachers being hired (this fits with the BCTF’s constant struggle for control of the classroom). The employer’s position would presumably not create the same number of classrooms.

Each side exaggerates the merits of its own position, and the dire consequences of the other’s. There’s no question the issues involved are vital, but I wonder if most people even know what is meant by “special needs” when it comes to diagnosing children.

Do people know there are actually 12 “categories” of special needs? They include: physically dependent, deaf or blind, moderate to profound intellectual disability, physical disability and chronic health impairment, visual impairment, hard of hearing, autism, severe mental illness, mild intellectual disability, moderate mental illness, learning disability and gifted.

The definitions of what constitutes each category are shaped by diagnostic findings of the American Psychology Association, and those diagnostic tools are used to diagnose students when their parents or their teacher(s) think it’s necessary to do so.

And some of the definitions can change. Take autism, for example. In 2000, about 1,300 kids were diagnosed with autism, and this past year the number was 6,750.

Experts say this phenomenal growth is because much more information has become known about autism, and the diagnostic tools are vastly different now than they were back in 2000.

I’m providing this kind of detail because I think it shows the complexity of the situation may be beyond the skill set of a traditional labor arbitrator. Best to leave the decisions surrounding this issue in the hands of those actually running the system – which means teachers and administrators.

The BCTF has made a compelling argument that more funding is needed to address class composition situations, while the employer has made an equally good case about the need for flexibility in the system. Hopefully the two sides can still achieve some middle ground in the current dispute.”



“…The media and government spokespeople have confused the lockout action with talk about extracurricular activities. The employer is saying that we’re allowed to volunteer, but that is not what the actual lockout order states. And, in order to protect ourselves as individuals and as professionals, we have to follow the lockout order.

It’s horribly confusing. We’re essentially being told “You can’t do that,” then the exact same person is telling the public “Of course they can do it. It’s their choice.” But it’s not. Not unless we want to push the limits of the law.

Now, a lockout is not an uncommon employer reaction to strike action. The idea is that employees aren’t doing their jobs, so a lockout is imposed to make them end strike action by showing how little the employer is bothered by the withdrawal of work. It’s playing hardball.

But the hardball here isn’t actually a ball.

It’s your kids.”

Principal Moves

Superintendent of Schools Brian Pepper is pleased to announce the following administrative appointments, effective August 1, 2014:

Kap Manhas – Vice-Principal, Duchess Park Secondary
Kevin Baldridge – Vice-Principal, Prince George Secondary
Parrish Child – Vice-Principal, Prince George Secondary
Lisa Horswell – Vice-Principal, Centre for Learning Alternatives
Linda McGraw – Principal, Edgewood Elementary
Laurie Bryce – Principal, Foothills Elementary
Tracy Kettles – Vice-Principal, Harwin Elementary
Stever Baker – Vice-Principal, Heritage Elementary
Kirk Czechmeister – Vice-Principal, Lac des Bois
Tom Makowsky – Principal, Nukko Lake Elementary
Tracy Baldridge – Principal, Pinewood Elementary
Rob Larson – Vice-Principal, Quinson Elementary
Liza Arnold – Vice-Principal, Ron Brent Elementary
Shandee Whitehead – Vice-Principal, Van Bien Elementary
Brenda Anderson – Principal, Vanway Elementary

We wish these administrators all the best in their new positions.

We also wish all the best to Steve Wyer in his move to School District No. 6 (Rocky Mountain) and to Rick Urquhart in retirement.