Parents get creative following teachers’ strike

One young mom in Penticton got permission to take her girl to work, while an independent school is bracing for a flood of interest

Miranda Winder

Miranda Winder

When her daughter’s school year ended two weeks early, Penticton mom Miranda Winder joined thousands of other B.C. parents left scrambling for childcare.

Thankfully, she has an understanding boss, and Winder, a sales associate at Red Bag clothing store in downtown Penticton, has been able to take her seven-year-old daughter, Sydney, to work this week.

“If I had to pay for childcare, I’d be making $2 an hour, so that was not really an option,” said Winder.

So far, her daughter, whose Grade 1 year at Columbia Elementary ended last Friday due to the teachers’ strike, has spent most of her time at the store colouring and playing games on her iPad.

Winder said she previously made arrangements to reorganize her summer work schedule in order to stay home with the girl, “but this (strike) was kind of a problem.”

And while the young mom supports the teachers, “I think that the timing was selfish. I think they could have waited and avoided the end-of-year problems that we’re seeing.”

Penticton Christian School principal Karl Boehmer expect he might be hearing from other frustrated parents if labour woes in the public system drag on.

“If there is continued unrest, if they don’t come to an agreement… my prediction is this might carry over into the next school year, at which time I’m certain in August that we will start getting calls,” he said.

“We welcome that, but at the same time, the people that want to come here, they have to be able to agree to our mission and vision and that kind of limits too who will come here.”

Boehmer said teachers at his school, which he classified as independent rather than private, are accredited and belong to professional organizations, but are non-unionized.

“That labour unrest, we don’t have that, and I think our families appreciate that,” he said.

The school’s enrolment was 79 this year, including three students in Grade 12, and tuition was set at $2,920, with bursaries and other financial assistance available.

“We have a substantial number of families enrolled here that are single income…. We try to make the school as accessible to the public as possible,” Boehmer said.

Winder would prefer to keep her daughter at Columbia.

“Money is not really an issue,” she said. “I just believe in public schools.”

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation called this week for a mediator to settle the dispute.  The teachers have been without a contract since June 2013.