Safety training could keep CUPE busy

Okanagan Skaha School District looking for ways to keep support staff busy during pro-D days

Additional health and safety training could keep school support staff workers busy during three extra professional development days for teachers next year.

Other options for 76 affected bus drivers, custodians and educational assistants include non-violent crisis intervention training,  maintenance projects and review of student files, according to Dave Burgoyne, assistant superintendent of the Okanagan Skaha School District.

“I don’t think we’d have any issue offering opportunities on those three pro-D days,” he told the school board at its meeting Monday.

For example, “We have currently a requirement that we have to provide eight hours of training for the joint occupation health and safety reps. That could be done during this time instead of (regular) work time.”

Canadian Union of Public Employees unit chair Alison Reigh said members are due for some additional training.

“We have been disappointed over the last couple of years by the employer’s seeming apathy towards encouraging our members to take health and safety training,” she said in a statement.

The union previously expressed concern that the addition of three pro-D days into the calendar would result in a pay cut for its members, most of whom who aren’t needed when school isn’t in session. In response, the school board promised to explore the possibility of finding them work on those days.

“I think that’s an important part of the discussion on the calendar, and a number of trustees and certainly a lot of people were concerned about that,” said school board chairman Bruce Johnson.

Not providing work for CUPE members on those three days would save the district up to $26,500 annually, according to Burgoyne’s analysis, and that will be discussed when the district’s 2014-15 budget deliberations begin in earnest this week.

“When we get the whole picture, that’s when the decision will be made,” Johnson said.

Secretary-treasurer Bonnie Roller Routley noted the calendar amendment was not designed as a cost-saving measure and the money to fund CUPE training opportunities has been included in the first draft of the budget that is going out for consultation..

“Discussions may come forth that would remove (the funding), but that’s not the intention at this time. It is in the budget,” she said.

Roller Routley said previously the district is expecting a $1.2-million budget shortfall for 2014-15

The public’s first look at the plan to tame that deficit will come at a budget presentation at the district parent advisory council meeting on April 23 at 6:30 p.m. in the Penticton Secondary School library.


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