Trustee balks at consultant costs

Trustee Tom Siddon has added his voice to concerns raised over the hiring of a consultant to help with upcoming labour negotiations with the Okanagan Skaha Teachers Union.

Trustee Tom Siddon has added his voice to concerns raised over the hiring of a consultant to help with upcoming labour negotiations with the Okanagan Skaha Teachers Union.

Siddon, who wasn’t at the March 14 in camera meeting when the consultant was hired, raised concerns that the selection had been made and voted on in a closed meeting.

“I am just hoping that, on matters not to do with sensitive issues … but on issues of hiring a consultant, that we would be open about the process and why we reached the decision we did,” said Siddon. “There is nothing about this issue that is serious enough, that following the process in the retention of a consultant can’t be discussed in public.”

Last month, Trustee Dave Perry raised his own concerns over the $800 per day contract that the Board of Education had awarded to retired district employee Dave Stigant to assist the board in upcoming negotiations with the teachers union.

Ginny Manning, chair of the board of education, defends the decision to hire Stigant. At present, she said, there is no one on staff with experience in conducting these sort of negotiations, and Stigant will not only lead this year’s negotiations, but mentor current staff members in the process.

Superintendent of schools Wendy Hyer said the contract has a termination clause, and is limited by policy to not exceed $25,000.

“We don’t expect it to be anywhere near that cost,” said Hyer. “We expect approximately five days of local negotiating to occur.”

According to Manning, the other issue raised, over whether the school district should be hiring a consultant that is already on a government pension, played no part in the decision-making process.

“We would look at the best person for the job, or that would be able to do the best work,” she said.

Assistant superintendent Dave Burgoyne confirms that the district has no policy against hiring retired teachers to fill teacher-on-call positions, choosing to employ the best candidate for their needs, regardless.

Stigant, who was an assistant superintendent specializing in human resources when he worked for the Okanagan Skaha School District, led the district’s negotiating team during the last round of contract negotiations. While the major issues of salaries, benefits, hours of work and paid leave are conducted at the provincial level, each district also has several contract issues to be negotiated locally.

“When you are looking at the provincial bargaining and the money pieces, those are consistent pieces, but each district has its own local contract pieces,” said Connie Denesiuk, president of the B.C. School Trustees Association and a trustee with Okanagan Skaha.

“Districts will be looking at being fair to employees, but keeping in front of their minds looking after students,” she said. “When you are negotiating, if it is not done with people that are experienced and good at it, there could be mistakes made. And we don’t want to make mistakes, because at the end of the day, it is going to come at the expense of the classroom. And by mistakes, I mean monetary, far beyond the $4,000.”

Hiring a consultant was also necessary, according to Manning, to balance both sides of the negotiating table. While Kevin Epp, president of OSTU, admits his team gets training and support from the B.C. Teachers’ Federation, he contends that the district also has resources that make hiring a consultant an unwise use of financial resources.

“We have probably had each, in total, somewhere between four and five days of workshop-based training about bargaining and the collective bargaining process,” said Epp, adding that the board pays to belong to BC Public School Employers’ Association, which has worked on behalf of boards on negotiating previous contracts.

“To say that a board is entering bargaining with either CUPE or the BCTF without any support is not accurate. They’re not babes in the woods, going in to get beat up by some enormous union machine,” said Epp. “Both parties have provincial organizations that are, in my opinion, equally resourced and equally skilled at supporting their local parties.”

 

Just Posted

57-year-old Kathleen Richardson was discovered deceased in her home Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Her death is considered a homicide and connected to the slain brothers found on a Naramata forest road. (Submitted)
Naramata community in shock as condolences pour in for homicide victim Kathy Richardson

Richardson was well liked in the community, a volunteer firefighter with a home-based salon

Princeton GSAR responds 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In 2020 the crew was called out 34 times, and members spent 721 hours on calls, and 683 hours training. Photo Princeton GSAR Facebook
Teen missing in Manning Park found after 24 hours

Young man spends night on mountain and survives with just a few scrapes

The RCMP are asking for assistance regarding the death of Kathleen Richardson of Naramata, pictured here. Her death is believed to be related to two homicides in Naramata in May. (RCMP)
Suspected Naramata homicide victim identified by police

57-year-old Kathleen Richardson was discovered deceased in her home Wednesday

(File photo)
Reports of aggressive deer in Penticton prompt warning from city

Expect female deer to be more aggressive over the next two months

(File photo)
Mobile drop-in vaccination clinic coming to Oliver

All those in the Oliver area who have not yet received their first dose are eligible for the vaccine

Dr. Albert de Villiers, chief medical health officer for the Interior Health Authority. (Contributed)
Black Press Media Weekly Roundup: Top headlines this week

Here’s a summary of this week’s biggest stories from the Okanagan-Shuswap

British Columbia-Yukon Community News Association’s 2021 Ma Murray Awards were handed out during a virtual ceremony on Friday, June 10. (Screen grab)
Black Press Media winners take gold at B.C. and Yukon journalism awards

Publications received nods in dozens of categories

Fair-goers take a ride at the 120th annual Armstrong Interior Provincial Exhibition and Stampede Aug. 28-Sept. 1, 2019. (Katherine Peters - Morning Star)
Armstrong’s IPE not eligible for COVID-19 grant designed for major attractions

Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo criticized the rigidity of the provincial program’s criteria

Two e-scooters parked on the sidewalk along Water Street in downtown Kelowna on Monday, May 3. Scooters parked on walkways are causing accessibility issues for some people with disabilities. (Michael Rodriguez/Capital News)
Kelowna General Hospital clinicians observe increase in e-scooter injuries

A report is set to go to city council next week on how the e-scooter pilot has gone thus far

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets campers while visiting McDougall, Ont. on Thursday, July 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
71% of B.C. men say they’d prefer to go camping with Trudeau: survey

Most British Columbians with plans to go camping outdoors say they’d prefer to go with Trudeau or Shania Twain

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps off Vancouver Island

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

Chilliwack cocaine trafficker Clayton Eheler seen with a tiger somewhere in Asia in 2014. Eheler was sentenced to nine years jail in 2018, but was released on bail in October 2020 pending his appeal of conviction.(Facebook)
Director of civil forfeiture seeks $140,000 from Fraser Valley drug dealer’s father-in-law

Clayton Eheler’s father-in-law Ray Morrissey caught with money in Fort St. John by B.C.’s gang unit

A Comox Valley shellfish operator pleaded guilty and was fined $10,000 in provincial court in Courtenay earlier this year. Record file photo
B.C. clam harvester fined $10,000 for Fisheries Act violations

Charges against three others were stayed in Courtenay Provincial Court

Frank Phillips receives a visit from his wife Rena at Nanaimo Seniors Village on their 61st wedding anniversary, March 31, 2020. Social visits have been allowed since COVID-19 vaccination has been offered in all care homes. (Nanaimo News Bulletin)
B.C. prepares mandatory vaccination for senior care homes

180 more cases of COVID-19 in B.C. Friday, one more death

Most Read