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Trustee takes issue with Times' editorial
Editor: Thank you for taking the time to publish your editorial — "Trustees fiddle with words, while students lose out in destructive teachers’ strike”, which I believe was spurred by the article “Board of Education wants teacher bargaining to continue”, written by Monique Tamminga. Both of which were published on line on June 4 and in the Jne 5 edition of The Times.
While I found your opinion to be interesting, I thought it may be useful for you to actually have a copy of the motion the board passed on Monday, June 2 at its regular public board meeting, as you were not there. The motion, which I brought and which was passed unanimously by the board, reads as follows:
“WHEREAS the Langley Board of Education supports the collective bargaining process as the best means of addressing issues related to unionized employees and their employers and is of the view that such issues should be resolved through a negotiated process and not through legislative action:
AND WHEREAS the Langley Board of Education believes negotiation in good faith to reach a collective agreement is the cornerstone of successful resolution of labour disputes;
BE IT RESOLVED that the Langley Board of Education write a letter to both the BCPSEA and the BCTF, expressing the Board's concern in relation to the current bargaining situation in British Columbia and its expectation that the parties should reach a settlement as soon as possible through negotiation in good faith.”
The most important part of that motion is where the board expresses its concern in relation to the current bargaining situation in British Columbia. That concern extends to our students, the people who work in our district and to the provision of public education in our district in general.
Your assertion that “Even at that, the board could not agree to send a letter expressing those sentiments, unless the final version is circulated to all trustees to see if it meets with their approval” and the divisiveness it implies are both factually incorrect. Had you attended the meeting, you would be aware that the letter is to be written by the chair, on behalf of the board and consequently a requirement for the concurrence of the board in the draft is not unusual. Boards should speak with one voice and such concurrence is the means through which that is accomplished.
Perhaps you have forgotten about the column you wrote titled: "Blueprint for change," published in The Times on Sept. 27, 2010.
It states: “Auditor-General John Doyle has issued a masterful report on what ails Langley School District. If trustees, senior management, employees and parents go along with his suggestions, the school district could become a healthy and thriving institution.
"It starts at the top. As Doyle said in his report, “Trustees must find a way to work together.” It is no secret that the board is badly divided. It was hopelessly divided in the 2005-08 term of office, and it’s divided now.
"While this is partially due to some fundamental political differences, it’s also due to personalities. There are several strong-willed trustees who feel that those with opinions that differ from theirs are not worth the time of day.”
The current board has worked tirelessly to be effective, practice good governance and advocate for students and tax payers. The board has improved community relations, worked closely with partner groups and secured three new schools for our district. The board has accomplished all of this though effective governance in the interest of the people of Langley and without turning everything into a ’three ring circus’ or a ‘side show’.
Although this may make for boring press coverage at times, fabricated controversy perpetuates a false public perception of divisiveness that does not represent the reality of the governance of education in this district today. Please re-read the motion, and if in future you have an issue, contact the trustees for clarification rather than relying on someone else's inaccurate recollection or unfounded opinion of a board meeting.
I will move a motion at the next meeting to make sure you are copied on our letter to BCPSEA and the BCTF.
Trustee Megan Dykeman
Editor's note — Thanks to Trustee Megan Dykeman for the clarification on how trustees contribute to the wording of letters from the board. However, it is important to state that The Times' editorial was based on our reporter's story from the June 2 meeting, which she attended, and on the actual discussion about the letter at the board table.