New developments are coming fast and furious in the ongoing teachers’ dispute.
On Friday, members of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation voted 73 per cent in favour of going ahead with an action plan to protest back-to-work legislation contained in Bill 22.
Only about three-quarters of the BCTF’s 41,000 members actually voted, as 21,625 said yes to the plan, which calls for a withdrawal of extracurricular services and a public awareness campaign. It also leaves the door open for a future vote on a full-scale strike.
Okanagan Skaha Teachers’ Union president Kevin Epp said that in March local educators already ceased, for the most part, their extracurricular volunteer work. So as a result of Friday’s vote, “I can’t say there’s been a massive change.”
Also on Friday, the provincial Labour Relations Board ruled that teachers must complete all outstanding report cards and prepare full year-end versions in June.
Epp said elementary and middle school students who received the so-called blank report cards in the fall should next week receive full spring reports that would have been completed during the three-day strike in March. High school students, he said, can also expect report cards soon that will be “normal for the most part.”
Finally, on Monday the province announced it had finished drafting regulations to enshrine in law new requirements for administrators to consult with teachers on the size and composition of all classes. Epp called it an “empty process” because administrators get the final say on those items.
But Okanagan Skaha School District 67 superintendent Wendy Hyer told a board meeting last week that “those types of conversations are nothing new,” and she noted that some teachers have withdrawn from those discussions as part of their job action.
Epp also said school districts are too cash-strapped to offer additional resources that teachers may ask for in those talks, but Hyer explained that the district expects to receive $680,000 from the province’s new Learning Improvement Fund specifically for that purpose.
Plus, teachers who have over-sized classes will receive additional pay for each student over the limit. According to Hyer, that works out to about $2,500 per kid for a Grade 5 teacher, money that can be put towards supplies, professional development, salary or some combination thereof.