By David F. Rooney
With classes scheduled to begin next Wednesday, September 3, SD 19 Superintendent Mike Hooker must be feeling a little schizophrenic. On the one hand he hopes that local schools will open; on the other he knows the prospect of a deal becomes dimmer with each passing day.
“As you may be aware, the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) and the British Columbia Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) remain at an impasse with regard to negotiating a new contract,” he says in a letter prepared on Monday, August 25, for the parents of school-aged children.
“Unfortunately, the parties have not been able to make progress over the summer months and as a result, we remain uncertain as to whether schools will open as scheduled on September 3.”
Last week there briefly appeared to be a light on the horizon as arbitrator and mediator Vince Ready became available to help bridge the gap between the BCTF and the provincial government. Both sides agreed to muzzle themselves and not comment out of class to the news media. That agreement broke down almost immediately when Education Minister Peter Fassbender lashed out publicly at BCTF president Jim Iker. Iker retaliated, of course, and the situation has now gone from bad to worse. It’s no wonder, therefore, that parents and educators are feeling a tad insecure and even discombobulated. (Please click here if you’d like to ask Fassbender why he torpedoed the last-ditch labour negotiations with the BCTF.)
Hooker said school principals continue to plan as though Arrow Heights, Begbie View, Columbia Park and RSS will open as hoped but “as a result of the disruption caused by the labour dispute in June, staff have not had an opportunity to prepare.”
“We will do our utmost to keep you informed in a timely manner and will update our website regularly at www.sd19.bc.ca,” Hooker said.
“If you have questions, please contact your principal or myself. I thank you for your understanding.”
Mike Hooker’s telephone number is 250-837-2101. Please click here to send him an e-mail.
More information about the situation may be available on Wednesday, August 27, when the SD 10 Board of Trustees holds a meeting at the school district office by RSS. A story and a video of the meeting will be available on The Current late that evening.