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

Agassiz’s Dickens Tea sells out for seventh year

The annual holiday event saw visitors enjoy high tea and historic talks

No defence witnesses in trial of man charged in killing of Abbotsford student

‘Change of instructions’ results in defence closing case without calling evidence

Agassiz Fire Department collects nearly 5,000 pounds of food for food bank

The annual food drive took place in the evening on Dec. 5

HISTORY: A curious commmunity connection between Agassiz and Pelham, Ont.

History columnist Lindsay Foreman shares her most recent story about how small Canada really is

Chilliwack condo sales up 153%

Year-over-year increase points to first-time homebuyers

VIDEO: Harrison lights up for the holidays

The second annual Lights by the Lake kicked off Saturday, Nov. 23

Vancouver Giants fall to Spokane Chiefs

‘We are just having a tough time scoring right now’

Dance cancelled after Alberta teacher’s climate lesson prompts online threats

School district near Red Deer cancelled annual family dance due to Facebook comments

Feds not enforcing standards on Hungarian duck imports, B.C. farmer says

‘You have no way of knowing what’s in the bag’

Don’t expect extra bus service during impending SkyTrain strike, CMBC says

Full SkyTrain shutdown is scheduled to start Tuesday morning

Surrey getting a new hospital, in Cloverdale

Premier John Horgan said the ‘brand new hospital’ will be built near Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Operation Red Nose Surrey-Langley could close for rest of season due to lack of volunteers

Organizers say they are struggling to keep up with high call numbers and long wait times

B.C. VIEWS: An engine that hums right along

First Nations are leading a new surge of investment in B.C.

Most Read