Disputes cast shadow on school year

A work-to-rule campaign by public school teachers, set to begin on the first day of school, is only one dispute expected in education in the coming year.

BCTF president Susan Lambert and Education Minister George Abbott have a rocky year ahead.

VICTORIA – A work-to-rule campaign by public school teachers, set to begin on the first day of school, is only one dispute expected in education in the coming year.

The B.C. Teachers Federation confirmed Wednesday it will file strike notice to take effect Tuesday morning. The BCTF says phase one will be to refuse administrative duties such as meeting with principals, supervising playgrounds and writing report cards.

The union and the employers’ association are far apart on a range of issues, including salary and a list of benefit improvements sought by the BCTF.

One major point in dispute is the meaning of a B.C. Supreme Court decision handed down this spring on the government’s 2002 removal of class size and composition from teacher bargaining. BCTF president Susan Lambert says the decision means the government must add $336 million to the public school budget to guarantee a level of service.

“Teachers are determined in this round of bargaining to regain those lost services, jobs and resources to meet students’ needs,” Lambert said.

Education Minister George Abbott has repeatedly said any settlement must fit with the government’s “net zero” mandate that other public service unions have already accepted. Abbott said in an interview Wednesday that the BCTF is demanding “restoration of the world as it existed in 2001, and once that’s done, then they’ll start talking.”

Abbott said the court does not prescribe an outcome, but gives the two sides a year to work out a compromise.

On another long-running dispute, Abbott said he hopes to have amendments ready for the fall legislature session to revamp the B.C. College of Teachers. He said the current system still allows teachers who have complaints against them to surrender their teaching certificate, avoid a disciplinary record, and then get reinstated to teach in a different district later on.

A review of the college last year by Victoria lawyer Don Avison found that even teachers with criminal convictions, including one case of sexual assault of students and another of cocaine trafficking, were able to resume teaching.

A bright spot for the new school year is the completion of B.C.’s full-day kindergarten project, which is now available province-wide. There are 37,000 kindergarten students expected to enrol in the program, after a $150 million investment in classrooms and an operating budget expanded to $345 million.

Abbott said some parents were apprehensive about putting five-year-olds into a full-day school program, but the pilot program last year was well received.

“It was remarkable how the kids embraced play-based learning that is a part of the kindergarten program,” he said.

Just Posted

Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations receive grants to bring ancestors’ remains home

Grants are part of the Royal B.C. Museum’s new repatriation program

Get ready for a week of sunshine across Vancouver Island

Environment Canada is forecasting temperatures in the high teens all this week

North Island Tour De Rock rider Benjamin Leah leads team to Port Hardy

“You don’t have issues and problems when you look at these kids and how much they’re going through.”

Alberni’s McLean Mill Society looking for a new direction

Society held a public input meeting at historic site

VIDEO: Man extracted from vehicle eight hours after accident near Cameron Lake

People making pit stop at picnic area made crash discovery

Live bear cam: Let the fishing begin

Watch bears in Alaska’s Katmai National Park catch their dinner live.

B.C. electric vehicle subsidy fund drains faster than expected

Province adds another $10 million to incentive fund

‘I’ll never forgive you:’ Victim impact statements at hearing for Calgary killer

Curtis Healy was found guilty of first-degree murder Friday in the death of Dawns Baptiste.

Man accused of mailing bomb to his brother in B.C. has died

Leon Nepper was found in ‘medical distress’ at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre on Sunday

It’s shaping up to be quite a finish in CFL’s West Division standings

The Calgary Stampeders (10-2) are first, four points ahead of the Saskatchewan Roughriders (8-5).

Twice-convicted killer set to inherit multimillion-dollar company found guilty of father’s murder

A Toronto judge ruled that Dellen Millard is guilty of first-degree murder in death of his father,

Campaign seeks to add Farsi to B.C. school curriculum options

Group wants Farsi added to list of nine languages in policy covering second language requirements

Trudeau urges leaders to follow Nelson Mandela’s example at UN tribute

Peace summit in New York marks 100th birthday of former South African president

Senate seats filled in B.C., Saskatchewan

Canada’s newest senators are the first woman to lead the RCMP and a Cree Metis businessman

Most Read