PRDTU head disappointed by lack of support

The Prince Rupert School District should have shown solidarity with other boards of education in B.C.

The head of the Prince Rupert District Teachers Union says the Prince Rupert School District (SD52) should have shown solidarity with other boards of education in B.C.

Kathy Murphy, president of the Prince Rupert District Teachers Union, was disappointed SD52’s board of education did not write a letter in support of other B.C. school districts that are concerned their teachers will not be paid for an eighth day in September as promised.

The North Okanagan-Shuswap, Coquitlam and Revelstoke boards of education sent letters to B.C. Minister of Education Peter Fassbender and Minister of Finance Michael de Jong in October regarding concerns that some teachers will be paid less for their work in the month of September. After a return to work agreement had been reached, the provincial government said it would pay teachers for a full day of work to get schools ready for students on Sept. 19.

The North Okanagan-Shuswap board of education stated it paid teachers for the seven days they taught in September, and for a full day on Sept. 19. However, due to provisions in its collective agreement its teachers are being paid less than others around the district.

“The funding allocations that the Ministry of Education provides to school districts does not differentiate between the local provisions of a collective agreement. However, the Ministry of Education is now going to differentiate how it recovers funds from school districts for strike savings. This is inequitable and unfair,” reads the letter signed by Bobbi Johnson, board chair of SD83.

Language in the Coquitlam school district’s contract also resulted in only seven days pay for teachers, with the board of education also sending a letter to Fassbender.

Furthermore, the British Columbia School Trustees Association sent a letter to both ministers encouraging the provincial government to “honour its commitment against the ill will and negative impact of not funding”.

“In the interest of provincial harmony we urge you to fully and equitably fund the eight days of teacher work for all boards of education,” reads the letter signed by Teresa Rezansoff, president of the BCSTA.

Murphy was disappointed the district chose to receive and file the letters instead of sending a letter supporting its fellow board of education.

“The more people that write to say that the ministry needs to support and fund this, the better,” she said.

Board members agreed they had made an oversight, but were unable to address the topic because of Robert’s Rule of Order.

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