All the schools in School District #83 are expected to be behind picket lines all week.
The intention, says Brenda O’Dell, president of the North Okanagan Shuswap Teachers Association, is to get the provincial government back to the bargaining table.
“We want to get the government back to the table so we can have a deal by September 2nd and get schools open again,” said O’Dell. “We’re out there, we’re visible, we’re reminding students and parents we’re still waiting for the government to come and talk to us. We can’t get anything done if they’re not talking.”
Regarding new student registration, which was set for Tuesday, Aug. 26, the school district website states that if your catchment school is being picketed, and you would prefer to register your child by phone, you may call the school principal. If he or she is not available, you’re asked to contact director of instruction Wendy Woodhurst at 250-804-7826. Registration will continue via phone until the strike is over.
On Monday, the North Okanagan-Shuswap School District Board of Education issued a news release, advising parents to be prepared in case school does not begin as planned on Sept. 2.
“Province-wide, school trustees are calling on the province, BCTF and B.C. Public School Employers’ Association to immediately return to the bargaining table, and implement the recommendations made in the B.C. School Trustees’ Association’s (BCSTA) Back to School Action Plan,” states the release.
“This includes working towards a negotiated settlement that falls within the economic mandate set up by the provincial government and makes improvements to class size and composition, as well as ensuring the savings from the strike and lockout stay within the public school system to benefit students.”
Board of education chair Bobbi Johnson says the board has been lobbying for a negotiated settlement since the strike started.
“The local board has written letters to the government, BCPSEA and BCTF, have met with MLA Greg Kyllo and have urged parents to make their views known. Recently, through social media, they have encouraged parents to read about the B.C. School Trustees’ Association (BCSTA) action plan and support getting students back to school on September 2.”
The new and controversial government website launched to give updates on bargaining states that, as of Aug. 26, “the parties had completed 71 bargaining sessions as well as several earlier exploratory discussions with third parties. Most recently, mediator Vince Ready has agreed to monitor the situation, and to resume exploratory talks or commence full mediation when he believes it will be productive.”
The Ministry of Finance recently announced ‘Temporary Education Support for Parents’ to help with learning and supervision should the strike go into September. It is described as $40 per eligible child 12 and under for each day the child is not in school as a result of the labour disruption. Registration for the payment can be done by completing an online form, starting in September. A paper registration form will be available for those who are not able to access the online registration.
Parents will be informed about school start-up via the district’s website, Facebook page and local media.