The Prince Rupert District Teachers’ Union held an information rally on Tuesday evening at School District 52’s board meeting.
“We want to present the board with information for the trustees to be able to advocate for more funding to increase education in B.C.,” Kathy Murphy, the acting president of the Prince Rupert District Teachers’ Union, said.
Negotiations between the BC Teachers’ Federation and BC Public School Employers’ Association have been ongoing since February. The previous Provincial Collective Agreement expired on June 30 so B.C. teachers currently have no contract. On Friday the BCTF rejected the recommendations laid out in the mediator’s report issued on Nov. 1.
Murphy said she would not comment on specific wage demands. However, she did explain that students in B.C. are funded $1,863 less than the national average, the local union’s main focus right now.
“We want the board to act on behalf of the students they should be advocating for and able to increase funding,” she said.
At the end of the board meeting, during the public discussion, the union asked the board to write letters supporting their fight, to increase the pressure for a better deal.
James Horne, SD52’s chair, said the board has long supported more funding for students however, the amount received is out of their hands.
“We continuously advocate on behalf of our students to get the most funding they can get because it’s not up to the government,” Horne said. “We have written letters to the government. We write several during every school year.”
Horne did note that the board will decide at their next meeting in December if they will be writing another letter to the government.
“We do take their concerns in consideration at all times and it also comes up in finance meetings. So we understand what they are talking about and support them in that way,” he said.
Horne is also asking the public to support the teachers’ efforts in securing more funding for the students.
Since Sep. 30 the teachers’ union held three information rally’s, with Tuesday’s potentially being the most fruitful. The previous two rallies were held outside MLA Jennifer Rice’s office.
MLA Rice responded to their concerns through a letter written to The Northern View but has not spoken with the local union in person for several months, Murphy said.
Jenna Cocullo | Journalist
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