By David F. Rooney
Teachers and government negotiators have reached a tentative deal and while local teachers are cautiously pleased, much remains to be done before your family’s school-age kids go back to class.
“I’m thrilled and so glad that students will be back in school and teachers back in the classroom,” SD 19 Chairman Alan Chell told The Current. “Details of the deal are not being released until later in the week so that the parties can ratify (the agreement).”
They need to do more than that.
“There’s work to be done,” SD 19 Superintendent Mike Hooker said as he talked with striking teachers at Begbie View Elementary School on Tuesday morning, September 16.
Many teachers spent at least some time this past summer trying to prepare their rooms for new pupils. However, Hooker said schools and individual classrooms are not yet physically ready.
“We’ll take the time to be ready for students,” he said, adding that a potential date for the start of the 2014/2015 school year has yet to be determined. “I believe there will be direction for that at the provincial level.”
Teachers have to ratify the deal that was tentatively reached early Tuesday morning after an all-night bargaining session. That could happen as early as this Thursday.
According to news reports from the Lower Mainland he said the deal was struck early Tuesday morning after an all-night bargaining session.
Details have not been announced and it remains to be seen if the BC Teachers Federation will ratify it.
“The BC Teachers’ Federation and the BC Public School Employers’ Association have reached a tentative agreement,” said a brief announcement on the union’s website. “If ratified by members, it would bring an end to the strike/lockout. Details will be available soon.”
Hooker said Chell notified of the breakthrough through an early-morning text.
“‘We’ve got a deal,’ he told me at 4:37 am,” Hooker chortled. “I immediately texted our principals to let them know and see who was sleeping with their phones by their bed. I actually woke some of them up.”
Teachers on the picket lines were certainly cheerier on Tuesday morning than they have been at any time since last spring.
“There’s actually a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Catherine Lavelle as she picketed at Arrow Heights Elementary.
RSS teacher Jeff Colvin summed it up this way: “We’re all pretty excited and ready to see the details.”
And that’s important. No one outside mediator Vince Ready and the BCTF and BC Public School Employers Association negotiating teams knows what has been conceded in order to achieve this tentative agreement. And certainly everyone will have given up at least one of their initial demands. That gnaws at the backs of many teachers’ minds but they’re willing to see what’s on the table before they vote yea or nay.
“If you’ve been beaten with a stick for along time it feels pretty good when they stop — so we’ll see,” said teacher Jim Redding.
We’ll see indeed.