Summer school classes cancelled in Coquitlam district

Coquitlam school district
Coquitlam school district's Summer Learning classes have been cancelled, including courses to help Grade 1 and 2 students improve their reading and writing skills.
— image credit: THINKSTOCK

Thousands of Tri-City students looking to get a jump on their schooling this summer will have to find other ways after School District 43 cancelled summer school programs because of the public school teachers' labour dispute.

SD43 joined Vancouver, Surrey and a number of other school districts in canceling summer school as hope for a resolution between the BC Teachers' Federation and the government's bargaining arm, BC Public School Employers' Association, began to fade.

SD43 superintendent Tom Grant said accommodations will be made in the fall for students in Grades 10, 11 and 12 who failed a course during the 2013/’14 school year; those classes will be held either at kids' high schools or through Coquitlam Open Learning.

But the remaining students — nearly 6,000 who registered for summer courses, including remedial, high school credit, secondary skill-building and programs for elementary and middle school students — will be out of luck this year.

Among the most popular courses that were canceled are reading and writing skill building classes for Grade 1 and 2 students and academic high school credit courses. The classes would have provided work for 210 teachers based on enrollment of nearly 6,000 students.

International education programs can still go ahead this summer, Grant said, because the cultural programs don't fall under the strike mandate.

That's good news for the district, which gets good publicity and a significant stream of revenue for international ed. programs.

Grant said summer learning had to be cancelled because the BCTF had planned to picket schools where it was being offered and, with no employees willing to cross, administrators would have had to teach the courses, and there were not enough people to cover all the programs.

"We're still in that strike lockout phase," he said. "Anything you do from an education perspective falls under a strike mandate."

Summer cleaning and maintenance work will go ahead, Grant said, as long as there are no pickets where the work is being done.

"We will have very clean schools for September," he said, adding, "I hope by then there is a negotiated agreement in which everyone can return to school."

On Wednesday, a second mediator refused to take on the job of helping to settle a dispute, declaring that the two sides were too far apart for mediation.


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