School District 19 welcomes new Ministry of Education – BCTF agreement

By David F. Rooney

School District 19 is encouraged by Thursday’s announcement of a $50 million agreement between the BCTF and the province regarding the interim creation of more than 1,000 new teaching positions while discussions continue on the restoration of teachers’ unconstitutionally stripped-away collective-agreement language.

“This is very good news,” Board of Trustees Chairman Bill MacFarlane told The Current on Friday, January 6.  ‘This will mean extra support for our students here in Revelstoke based on discussions that will now be held between the Board and the Revelstoke Teachers’ Association.  It is also good to hear that the $50 million is a very significant  first step in finally resolving this issue that now goes back 15 years. Although complete resolution will involve negotiating  some very complex issues the parties seem very committed to having things completed for the beginning of the next school year.”

SD 19 Superintendent he expects to get more information in the next few weeks about the funding implications. “In the meantime, it is encouraging that the provincial parties have made progress, and are now able to meet to focus on the longer term,” he said.

On Thurday, the British Columbia Teachers Federation and the Ministry of Education separately announced they had reached agreement with the BC Public School Employers’ Association and the provincial government on the interim creation of more than 1,000 new teaching positions while discussions continue on full restoration of teachers’ unconstitutionally stripped-away collective agreement language.

Since the BCTF won its Supreme Court of Canada case last November union negotiators have been pushing to achieve two goals.  Union President Glen Hansman identified them as:

  1. Getting as many teachers as possible back into schools and classrooms as quickly as possible. This $50 million agreement is the first step. It means hundreds more teachers will be in schools working with students across the province in a matter of weeks; and
  2. Full implementation of the 2002 collective agreement language. It will now be the focus of talks with the government.

“We have to find a way that is both practical and appropriate for the education system we have today,” Education Minister Mike Bernier said Thursday. “This new funding will help to kick-start the changes we all know are required following the recent Supreme Court of Canada decision. While the positive negotiations continue, we’re going to keep focused on solutions that work for kids in their classrooms.”

The two sides will meet again next week to continue discussions. Key points of the Memorandum of Agreement include:

  • $50 million in new funding from the Ministry of Education to create 1,000–1,100 teacher full-time equivalents (FTE) for the balance of the 2016–17 school year.
  • The new funding will be used to implement two priority measures: adding enrolling-teacher positions and non-enrolling positions in schools (for example: counsellors, teacher-librarians, special education teachers, and other specialists across all grades).
  • Allocation of the net new funding at the school district level needs to be jointly developed and decided through a district committee established by the Superintendent and the local union President.  Decisions about what jobs will be posted and where needs to be decided by the local parties. There will also be a dispute resolution process if there is no agreement between local parties.