Whether or not North Coast students and others across the province will return to school on time remains unclear as negotiations have yet to provide certainty to parents and students in B.C.
As of Aug. 25, a deal between the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) and B.C. Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) had not been reached.
Sandra Jones, superintendent of School District 52 (SD52), said the district remains hopeful that school will start on time, with preparation for openings taking place as usual.
“At this point, we do not know for certain when school will commence, but we continue to prepare for school to begin as scheduled on Sept. 2,” reads a letter signed by Jones on the SD52 website.
“In the event developments occur in which school resumes, be assured schools will be ready for students
A joint statement put out by the BCTF and BCPSEA on Aug. 14 stated that mediator Vince Ready was monitoring the dispute and would resume exploratory talks or launch full mediation when he believes it will be productive.
During the BCTF’s Summer Leadership Conference in Kamloops over the weekend, president Jim Iker urged government to enter negotiations to end the strike. During a speech to the hundreds of teachers in attendance, Iker said negotiations are at a stand-still because of the government’s “unwillingness to enter full-scale mediation and compromise”.
“Teachers do want to be back at school on Sept. 2. We’re hoping that the government comes to the table and accepts the mediation so that we can do that,” said Kathy Murphy, president of the Prince Rupert and District Teachers’ Union (PRDTU), who attended the conference.
B.C. teachers started a full strike on June 17 after three weeks of rotating strikes, seeking improvements in class size and composition and higher wages.
The B.C. government has stated teachers’ wages have to be in line with other public-sector workers for a settlement to be reached.
If schools aren’t open on time, B.C.’s Finance Minister announced the government will give parents or guardians $40 a day for child care for each kid under the age of 13.
“Why would the government pay $12 million a day to keep kids out of school?” questioned Murphy.
The Prince Rupert School District is asking parents and guardians to check the SD52 website for updates at www.sd52.bc.ca.