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School District 43 launches back-to-school campaign
With a labour dispute jeopardizing back-to-school plans, School District 43 trustees are launching a campaign to raise public awareness and spur efforts at the bargaining table.
SD43 has hired a consultant, is buying ads in local newspapers and putting information on its website, and is expected to launch a Twitter campaign to put pressure on the BC Teachers' Federation and the province's bargaining arm, the BC Public Schools Employers' Association, whose reps were to meet today (Friday).
"This is the board of education responding to our community and to what we've heard that students and staff want schools to be open on Sept. 2," said board chair Melissa Hyndes. "And we're launching this campaign to get the community more aware and to inform other parties that we expect they're at the table getting a deal done so our students and staff are not suffering come September.
CALLED PUT STUDENTS FIRST
The "SD43 Puts Students First" campaign is being launched at the same time the BC School Trustees Association (BCSTA) has launched its Back-to-School Action plan to have all B.C. public schools start the 2014/’15 school year on time. In its plan, the BCSTA has called for a negotiated agreement by Aug. 31 and clean school sites and teachers, support staff and administrators in schools to welcome students Sept. 2.
Hyndes said the trustees' goal in their campaign is also to encourage both sides in the dispute to resolve their dispute and get an agreement, but it's also to show families that the board is doing something about the current situation.
"We're listening to our community and need to get our voice heard," said the Port Moody trustee.
Families are anxious about the coming school year and don't know whether to buy school supplies in mid-August, and some businesses may be hurting financially because of the uncertainty, she said.
While Hyndes didn't have the cost breakdown for the campaign — including the cost of hiring a consultant, or for advertising — she said the amount will be small and not hurt the already financially strapped district.
As for the province's plan, announced last week, to pay families $40 a day per school aged child under 12 if school doesn't start on time, she said it's not the best approach and the money should go to public education instead.
"The letter [to be published in local media] is going to talk about that," Hyndes said.