August 25, 2014
Dear parents and guardians:
As you are likely aware, the BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) and the BC Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) have not been able to make significant progress over the summer months and so the possibility of schools opening as usual following Labour Day is uncertain. The Board hopes that the recent appointment of an external mediator provides an opportunity for the parties at the table to adjust their positions and reach a negotiated settlement in time for schools to open as scheduled on September 2.
As your elected officials governing the public education system, we have consistently been advocating to the government of BC and to the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) to reach a negotiated collective agreement. We have consistently advocated for the government to provide immediate additional and stable funding for the public education system. We are proud of our schools but need the necessary resources to ensure a high quality, publicly available education is available for the youth of our communities.
As a Board we have joined with other Boards from across BC calling for the parties to reach a negotiated settlement prior to the end of August. Through the BC School Trustees’ Association (BCSTA) and letters directed to the Premier and Minister of Education, we have jointly expressed our desire for a negotiated, fair settlement and called for the government to fully fund all costs related to a provincially negotiated collective agreement.
While we are planning for schools to be open on September 2, we also need to be prepared should there not be a settlement and picket lines return/continue. Should teachers remain on strike or should a lockout occur then we will not be able to offer our regular instruction. As a result of the inability to ensure the safety and security of our students, we will ask that parents keep all children home or make alternate arrangements until our staff returns to work.
District staff will communicate via email and our district website to parents and guardians letting you know if school will NOT start on September 2.
Trustees are disappointed that a provincial settlement has not been reached to date. We appreciate that this normally exciting time of the year when children return to school energetic and full of optimism is clouded due to the uncertainty caused by the labour dispute. We are proud of our schools and our staff. Our commitment to supporting the journey of all learners remains strong. We hope that a settlement is reached prior to September 2 and that our school district can begin to return to normal operations and begin the school year on a more positive note.
For further information and updates please check the district website – www.sd20.bc.ca.
Vice-Chair, Board of Education