By David F. Rooney
Teachers will be back at school on Monday but school trustees’ failure to give them even a hint of support until confronted in July has bruised the board’s relationship with its educators.
Revelstoke Teachers’ Association President Jennifer Wolney told the board on Wednesday, September 17, that teachers were wounded by the failure of trustees to make any gesture of support during the strike. The board did eventually write a letter to Education Minister Peter Fassbender telling him they deplored the strike and urged a swift resolution. But they did not do that until a July 9 meeting when 20 teachers attended a board meeting to air their displeasure.
“You could see the angst on their faces,” Wolney said as she recalled the mood of that meeting.
And, she said, even though she and her fellow educators are voting on whether to accept the agreement they have “lost their joie de vivre” and feel disrespected by trustees.
“It’s just not there for them,” Wolney said.
Another teacher, Sarah Newton of Begbie View Elementary, said later that the government punished striking teachers by docking them $10,000 pay each, which imposed tremendous financial strain on them and their families.
“I fully agree and echo your comments about how hard our teachers work,” School District Superintendent Mike Hooker told Wolney. “I have a tremendous amount of pride in our teachers.”
Board Chairman Alan Chell told the teachers he was pleased to see the agreement that was reached early Tuesday morning.
“I see this as a very, very positive sign,” he said, noting that the six-year contract should ensure five years of labour stability within the school system.
While teachers spent Thursday voting on whether to accept the proposed contract, the district optimistically began planning to begin the 2014/2015 school year on Monday.
“In anticipation of a positive outcome, we are planning to have schools open for students on Monday, September 22,” Hooker said in a letter posted on the SD 19 website. “Needless to say, this has been an extremely disruptive time for our school community. We will now turn our attention to ensuring that the success of our students is the focal point of the 2014/15 year.”
You can watch the proceedings of the board’s September 17 meeting here: