The Board of Education is cautiously optimistic an agreement will be in place in time for public school students in the province to return to the classroom in September.
At a special meeting held earlier this week, School District 23 announced its support for a back to school action plan, and also sent a letter to the government and the BC Teachers Federation ahead of Friday’s return to the bargaining table.
“It’s our hope that they will start bargaining in good faith, and behind closed doors,” says school board chairperson Moyra Baxter.
“Because I think everyone agrees there’s been too much happening in public – statements being made by both sides. Personally I don’t think it’s been very respectful.”
The action plan was put together by the British Columbia School Trustees Association, and calls for the following:
- A negotiated agreement with the BCTF by August 31, 2014.
- Teachers, support staff and administrators in schools to welcome students and parents on September 2, 2014.
- Schools sites are clean, safe and equipped to receive students by September 2.
- Harmonious relationships are restored with teachers, support staff and administrators.
- A commitment by all education partners and government to work collaboratively to strengthen BC’s public education system.
Baxter says it's unfortunate an agreement couldn’t have been reached before the entire school system was disrupted, and recognizes the first day of the new school year is still very much in doubt.
“It is of concern, but we’re still so uncertain about what’s going to be happening,” she says.
“We know that teachers are usually starting in August, to get ready for September with their class lists. Decisions are being made about where students are going to be placed, and we want to be able to get on and do the things.”
The letter sent to both the government and BCTF makes a special point of emphasizing that any monies saved during the strike/lockout should remain within the public education system and not to be used for any other purpose.