BACK TO SCHOOL: Now what?
School is back.
And, 2011-2012 is shaping up to be anything but an ordinary school year.
Mainly, it’s beginning with B.C.’s 41,000 public-school teachers launching job action against the provincial government.
However, School District No. 73 board chairman Ken Christian said, students shouldn’t notice a difference.
“No — from the student’s perspective, it’s back to school as usual,” he said.
“We really want to keep students out of this as much as possible.”
Christian is, of course, referring to the ongoing contract dispute between the B.C. Teachers’ Federation and the provincial government.
The teachers’ contract expired in April and ,in June, union members voted 90 per cent in favour of job action.
The two sides resumed bargaining on Aug. 23, but there hasn’t been much progress to report.
Today, as SD73’s 14,000 students return to classrooms, teachers across B.C. are beginning phase 1 of their job action strategy.
According to Jason Karpuk, head of the Kamloops-Thompson Teachers’ Association, that will include teachers absolving themselves of all administrative duties — including supervision, collecting fees, distributing materials and attending staff meetings.
Local teachers will meet on the night of Tuesday, Sept. 6, to discuss exactly how to carry out the job action.
“I’m hoping we continue to teach and do the job, and I’m hoping the pressure continues to build on the government,” Karpuk said.
“Hopefully, the public will come to see teachers in this province are mistreated.
“I think it’s going to be a long phase 1.”
Karpuk said if and when subsequent phases begin, should a contract agreement not be reached, what happens them will be up to B.C. teachers by way of a vote.
SD73 staff will be impacted by the job action as well, with 22 district employees forced to help out at local schools.
Christian said the staffers — everyone from board secretary-treasurer Kelvin Stretch to the district’s IT manager — will mainly be helping out with supervision.
As part of phase 1 of teachers’ job action, they are no longer supervising recess breaks.
One aspect that should not be impacted by job action is extra-curricular activities.
Karpuk said coaching and supervising extra-curricular teams and groups is totally voluntary.
“Extra-curricular is all up to the teachers,” he said.
Karpuk wouldn’t speculate as to when phase 2 might commence, noting “it’s up to the membership” of the