School trustees around the province are urging the government and the B.C. Teachers’ Federation to work together to reach an agreement.
The B.C. School Trustees Association (BCSTA) issued a “Back to School Action Plan” last week, at the same time as the Ministry of Education announced that parents of students under 13 would receive $40 a day per child to offset childcare costs during the strike.
Instead, the trustees urged the government to put all money it had saved as a result of the strike and lockout into a Learning Improvement Fund that would support students, student learning, and class size and composition.
“Boards of Education are deeply concerned about the impact of the continuing bargaining impasse on students, families, staff, and the reputation of B.C.’s public education system,” read the statement.
“As the governors of B.C.’s local school districts and employers of staff who make our schools successful, B.C. school trustees know that a balance must be found between the bargaining objectives of the BC Teachers’ Federation and the economic mandate established by the provincial government. We believe that such a balance can be found.”
As well as asking the government to commit its strike savings to a fund for learning, the trustees also put forward two more suggestions, with the goal of having schools start on time in September.
First, the trustee association urged the BCTF to modify the benefit increases teachers are seeking so that the overall compensation package will fall within the range accepted by other public sector unions.
Second, the trustees asked the government and all education partners to establish a new bargaining and labour relations structure as per the recommendations identified in BCSTA’s October 2013 Bargaining Structure Task Force Report.
“There is much work to be done to ensure that the world-class achievement of B.C.’s public education system is sustained and strengthened in the years to come. With our students and the long-term prosperity of our future citizens in mind, we must commit to working together to build a strong public education system that is student-centred, collegial and appropriately funded,” said the association.
“We are committed to have our schools open on September 2.”