SUPERINTENDENT’S SPEAKING NOTES
District Parent Advisory Council
A. Question and Answers – Strike/Lockout
1. Is there a difference between Government and the Employer – are they not one and the same?
From the outside looking in – you may think – YES. However the Provincial Government, Board of Education and the British Columbia Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) operate as independent organizations – so NO they are not one and the same.
2. What advice would you provide to parents during this time of labour unrest?
Ensure students remain focused on their assignments and studies. Our teachers and support staff continue to provide a safe and productive learning environment for students.
For those students asking about the labour dispute – please direct them to the BCPSEA, BCTF, and SD57 websites In this way students can see the understanding/focus of each organization involved in the strike/lockout.
3. Will provincial exams be cancelled this year?
Our Minister of Education has directed that provincial exams will continue as scheduled.
4. Can you share any other helpful information?
Please understand the strike/lockout landscape can change each day. For instance, there will be another Labour Relations Board hearing later this week. The decisions made by the Labour Relations Board (LRB) may provide additional clarity in a number of areas. Please look for the news releases that will likely follow the LRB decisions. In addition please continue to visit the following websites for the most up-to-date information: your school website, www.sd57.bc.ca, www.bcpsea.bc.ca, www.bctf.ca.
B. Principal and Vice Principal Moves
A number of moves will be announced later this week. Principal and Vice Principal moves provide for organizational growth and development, individual capacity building and learning improvement across our system.
C. District Achievement Contract
The District Achievement Contract is a public statement of commitment by the Board of Education to work towards success for each student in the district. School District No. 57 remains committed to “Learning that enriches the life of each student.” To this end, actions are required to support the learning of all students and adult learners.
Please visit our website: www.sd57.bc.ca to see a draft of the District Achievement Contract. Please consider reading the document and providing feedback to the Board of Education as provided for in the website link.
D. Thank You!
Thank you to DPAC and school PAC volunteers! Your support and advice, and donation of time and expertise are appreciated! We look forward to working with you again next year.
With the possibility that the British Columbia Teachers Federation (BCTF) will start a full walk out on June 16, 2014, parents are concerned about whether their children will be able to write final exams, receive final report cards, and transition to the next grade or on to post-secondary.
The Ministry of Education and the British Columbia Public School Employers Association (BCPSEA) want to assure parents that every effort is being made to ensure the strike does not disadvantage students, nor delay their transition to the next grade or on to post-secondary.
A full walkout may impact the last nine days of school before summer break begins on June 27, 2014. Here is some information to give parents greater certainty about what to expect and the potential impact on their children:
What this means for students in Kindergarten through Grade 9:
- Schools will be closed.
- Parents with children who need supervision should make child care arrangements.
- Parents will receive final report cards, but in some cases the reports may be more abbreviated than normal.
What this means for students in Grades 10, 11 and 12:
There are fifteen provincial exam courses scheduled between June 16 to 26, 2014 (see further details below).
It is expected that secondary schools will only be open for the purpose of administering exams.
Picket lines may be present; students in rural areas may not have normal school bus service.
Every effort will be made for provincial exams to be marked and final course marks conveyed to students and parents in a timely way.
BCPSEA has applied to the Labour Relations Board to have all services required for the completion of report cards deemed essential including:
preparing, invigilating and marking of school based and provincial exams; and
compilation, entry, and submission of final grades.
Note – June 13th appears to be a primary report card writing day for a number of schools in SD57: http://sd57dpac.ca/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/2013-2014-Report-Card-Writing-Days.pdf
The BCTF has released next week’s rotating strike schedule, with Friday, June 13th being the strike day for the Prince George school district:
Tuesday, June 10
Wednesday, June 11
48—Sea to Sky
Thursday, June 12
59—Peace River South
84—Vancouver Island West
Friday, June 13
53—South Okanagan Similkameen
60—Peace River North
85—Vancouver Island North
To say a dysfunctional relationship between two parents doesn’t affect the children would be an outrageous lie. The relationship between the BCTF and the province is very much the same and the effects are mostly felt by the students.
Like all school kids and their parents, the school support workers are innocent victims of the strike/lockout.
It’s another reason for the government to order a cooling-off period. Let’s get through the rest of the school year with no further disruptions, and then the BCTF and government should be forced to bargain in the summer with the help of a mediator.
Graduation and exams for British Columbia’s half-a-million public school students are in jeopardy as the teachers’ union threatens to launch a full-blown strike.
The BC Teachers’ Federation is asking the province’s more than 40,000 teachers to vote on escalating job action next Monday and Tuesday, with the potential for a full strike starting as early as June 16.
…All of which leaves intact the government’s strategy for dealing with the dispute, which would appear to rest on six considerations.
The first is that the teachers pay an economic price for any strike action, hence the 10-per-cent wage penalty.
The second is to avoid outright cancellation of graduation, exams, marking and report cards.
The third is to avoid, if at all possible, having to call back the legislature and impose yet another contract on teachers before the end of the school year.
The fourth is to leave the 12-year battle over Liberal-induced contract-stripping to the courts, where the latest iteration of the case is to be heard before the B.C. Court of Appeal this fall.
The fifth is not to be drawn into pointless talk about fixing a supposedly “broken” bargaining system. The current system has produced multiple settlements with other public-sector unions, including numerous agreements with school support workers represented by locals of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.
Plus, as master mediator Vince Ready said when he was asked to make recommendations on the bargaining system during an earlier showdown between government and teachers: “Unless both sides are committed to collective bargaining, the process will be fruitless no matter what system is adopted or legislated.”
The sixth fundamental for the Liberals is that the settlement with teachers not break the pattern of other settlements in the public sector, thereby risking a round of “me too” demands from other unions.
The latter is of particular concern because the nurses union has yet to settle in the current round. In one key respect, nurses have more bargaining leverage than teachers, there being a significant shortage of nurses and none of teachers, excepting some specialized categories like maths and sciences.
I’ve argued that the Liberals could and should offer a catch-up increase to teachers, recognizing that they are coming off two years of zeros while other public sector workers are coming off two years of increases in the 1.5 per cent to 2 per cent range.
But all signs suggest the Liberals are more likely to offer greater financial resources to address public concerns about class size and composition. Since the resources would go into the classroom rather than into higher wages and benefits, the government could go that route without having to match the increases dollar-for-dollar in other public sector talks.
As in the past, the government could bolster funding for the K-12 system by diverting the savings from the strike. Thus if teachers vote next week to step up their job action, they would also be contributing to the pool of money available to fund an eventual settlement of the dispute.
Meeting to be held June 9th, at 7pm, at the Van Bien Training and Development Centre.
Link to webconference: https://meetings.webex.com/collabs/#/meetings/detail?uuid=MBZH9JF3LYWXLUEN9KGGCS78PZ-B8NT&rnd=312576.32488
Agenda – DPAC General Meeting
Monday, June 9, 2014, 7:00 p.m. Van Bien Training and Development Centre
1. Call to order
2. Appointment or election of Secretary
3. Adoption of agenda and Adoption of May 2014 Minutes
4. PAC Networking
To increase the effectiveness of this section of the agenda, we suggest that people report on ideas that may be of interest to other PACs, or concerns that other PACs could help with.
7:30pm – Partner groups enter
5. Partner Group Presentations (5 minutes each).
a) DSAC Report (Graeme Mackenzie, Shelby Miller)
b) CUPE Report (Karen Wong)
c) Prince George District Teachers Association Report (Tina Cousins, Richard Giroday)
d) Prince George Principal and Vice Principals Association Report (Faith Mackay, Lori Dennill)
e) Professional Employees Association (Nicole Haines)
f) Superintendent Report (Brian Pepper)
g) Trustee Report (Betty Bekkering)
(5 – 10 minute snack break, opportunity for further partner group discussions)
6. Elections – Secretary, Director
7. Officer and Committee Reports
a) Executive Board Report (Sarah Holland)
b) Treasurer’s Report (Gillian Burnett)
c) BCCPAC Report (Darlene Campbell)
8. PAC and Parent Assistance
a) Grant requests
b) Fall Conference report – scheduled for October 18, 2014, Civic Centre
9. Advising School District
a) Education Services Committee Report (Steve, Dennis)
b) Education Programs and Planning Committee Report (Darlene, Chris)
c) Policy and Governance (Sarah, Chris)
d) Ad hoc Technology Committee (Steve)
e) Suggestions for School Board Report
10. Other Business
11. Agenda items for next meeting
12. Adjournment – Next meeting is scheduled for Monday, September _____, at 7:00 pm Van Bien Training and Development Centre.
The collective bargaining proposals can be found here: http://www.bcpsea.bc.ca/bc-teachers/teacher-collective-bargaining.aspx
For example, the June 3rd class size proposal from the BCTF is here: http://www.bcpsea.bc.ca/documents/teacher%20bargaining/Proposals/U62%20Class%20Size.pdf
In 2014 the class size maximums would be 20 for Kindergarten, 22 for grades 1-3, and 28 for grades 4-12. By 2016, the maximum for kindergarten would be 18, 20 for grades 1-3, 26 for grades 4-7, and 27 for grades 8-12. For split classes, the class size maximum would two less than the maximum for the lowest grade.
For reference, the current class size maximums for kindergarten are 22 students, for grades 1 to 3 it is 24 students, and for grades 4 to 12 it is 30 students.
In 2002, kindergarten class sizes were capped at 20 students, while Grades 1 to 3 were capped at 22. In 2002, class sizes for Grades 4 to 12 were negotiated by each school district, so there was no consistency across the province. The 2002 class size limits were restored by the BC Supreme Court in January, but that decision is currently being appealed.
The BCPSEA has a document from March, giving details as to their differences with class size and composition proposals: http://www.bcpsea.bc.ca/documents/publications/No%202014-02%20For%20the%20Record-Class%20Size-Workload%20March%206%202014.pdf
“BCTF President Jim Iker is threatening a full-scale teachers’ strike within the next two weeks if the government doesn’t put more money on the table.
Iker says teachers will take a strike vote on Monday, June 9 and Tuesday, June 10 to get a mandate for escalated job action.
Rotating strikes will also continue next week, and the schedule will be released tomorrow.”
Without more government money on the table, Iker said, field trips will be cancelled and report cards will not be issued because of increasing job action on the part of the province’s 41,000 teachers.
Iker said the decision to go to a vote on a full strike was made Tuesday, even before the Labour Relations Board ruled against the union.
The “Labour Relations Board sided with the province in its bid to dock teachers 10 per cent of their pay during the rotating strikes.
The union went to the board over the government’s decision to dock teachers’ wages in reaction to their job action.
Teachers argued the government’s move to reduce their wages needed prior approval from the Labour Relations Board.
But the board ruled Wednesday afternoon that it was siding the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association, the bargaining arm for the government.”
Parent organization seeks immediate end to teacher strike and lockout
The BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils (BCCPAC) is calling for an immediate end to the rotating strike and lockout action that is disrupting schools and hurting students.
The appeal follows a BCCPAC meeting over the weekend that brought parents from around the province together to discuss issues affecting K-12 education. Their foremost concern was the protracted labour dispute between the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) and the provincial government.
This feud is having a detrimental effect on the most vulnerable students by denying them the help they need from teachers at this critical time of year, said BCCPAC president Terry Berting. It’s also causing financial hardship for struggling families.
“Successful outcomes for all students – not just those graduating from Grade 12 – are being affected by this labour dispute,” he said. “This has got to stop.”
A second round of rotating strikes, now underway, means every school will be behind picket lines for one day this week. In addition, some schools have been cancelling extra-curricular activities, end-of-year celebrations and sporting events as a result of feud, but this is uneven.
BCCPAC wants government and the union to stop using pressure tactics that affect students and concentrate their energy on achieving a new collective agreement. It is time for both sides to take risks and negotiate in the true spirit of give and take.
“We’re encouraging parents to write to Education Minister Peter Fassbender and BCTF president Jim Iker, explaining how the rotating strikes and lockout are hurting families,” added Nicole Makohoniuk, who was elected as the new BCCPAC president during the weekend meeting and will begin her two-year term July 1.
Visit BCCPAC online at www.bccpac.bc.ca
Parents may have different views about the labour feud that’s hurting B.C. public schools, but those attending the BCCPAC conference appeared united Friday in their anger and frustration.
They’re fed up, BCCPAC president Terry Berting told the media, adding that his group is considering what action it might take to pressure the parties to reach a negotiated settlement.
Parents want to take the high road but they’re troubled by the ongoing bitterness between government and the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF), The Canadian Press quoted him as saying.
Education Minister Peter Fassbender spoke to conference delegates Friday morning and was later peppered with questions, starting with this one: “How does class size not matter?”
Parents also wanted to know what his government is doing to help with complex classes, how it will protect schools threatened with permanent closure, whether the labour dispute will upset graduation activities and final exams and whether negotiations will continue throughout the summer.
There were no surprises in his answers: Class size is important up to a point, but not as important as class composition and teacher quality, given limited tax dollars, he said. Government has provided additional dollars to help with class composition challenges but it’s an issue that needs more attention, after a contract is signed, he added.