School’s out – but this is no time for celebrationJune 17, 2014
B.C. public schools are closed, teachers are on strike and the leaders of the two bargaining teams have been trading insults.
It’s a sad end to the school year for all K-12 students, but particularly those in Grade 12, who have been looking forward to June 2014 for a long time.
While negotiators for the government and the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) made some progress on wages during weekend talks, they’re still far apart on important issues, including class size and composition.
They spent Monday slagging one another, but returned to the bargaining table today. Provincial exams in Grades 10-12 will proceed according to schedule – as per an order from the Labour Relations Board – but the future of summer school was not known as of late Tuesday afternoon.
“The focus is still on a deal by June 30,” the union told me in a tweet.
Education Minister Peter Fassbender said earlier that government will lift its partial lockout by the end of June to allow summer school to proceed, but whether it does or not will depend on whether teachers are still manning picket lines.
In some districts, BCTF members provide summer school; in others, the work is contracted out.
The Vancouver school board has posted the following on its website today:
“We are considering the status of summer school at this time. If the strike continues into the summer, and the BCTF chooses to picket the sites, then summer school may need to be cancelled. We anticipate making a decision as to whether or not to cancel summer school by early next week.”
Surrey school district, meanwhile, is saying this:
“As the BC Teachers’ Federation is engaged in a province-wide strike action, schools in Surrey are not open. At this time, summer programs are moving forward. Updates will be posted here.”
Regarding wages, here are the positions of the two sides:
The BCTF is asking for an eight per cent raise over a five-year deal and a $5,000 signing bonus.
The government is offering seven per cent over six years, along with an extra 1.5 per cent for an optional seventh year, and a $1,200 signing bonus.
The rest of it is more complicated, but details can be found on the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) website or at Global BC or the Vancouver Sun.