Not initially having been among the ten or so school districts to eliminate a recess break during current teacher contract negotiations, SD 20 will fall in line as of next Tuesday. The move will trim about 15 minutes from the school day, and reduce the demands on management personnel.
“Schools throughout the district remain open and instruction continues but many other activities have come to a halt,” states a recent letter from the SD to parents, in part. “Principals, Vice‐Principals, district management staff have taken on before school, recess and after school supervision as teachers have refused to perform those duties as part of their strike action.”
SD 20 Board Chair Darrel Ganzert told the Castlegar News the added workload is having an effect.
“Our people are not in their offices doing that work but are out supervising children, which has to be… because that’s a safety issue,” said Ganzert. “It’s on hold, they would prioritize. The stuff that can wait, will wait. The stuff that needs to be taken care of, of course, will. But a major hiccup is taking place.”
As for the coming recess cut, Ganzert said, “It’s one less supervision period for the district staff, and the kids’ safety is completely taken care of.”
Unlike in previous eras, local school boards have no place in the sort of contract negotiations which are going on now, and the local board chair has mixed feelings about that. Ganzert says there are positive and negative aspects to the trustees’ removal from the bargaining process. While it may be seen in some cases as a sort of relief to be spared the responsibility of bargaining, the body misses the influence it once wielded.
“We have no input now,” he said, “we used to have at least a voice at the table, of what made sense to us as the administrative team. Now there is no voice like that, it’s the government.”
“It didn’t take long for School District 20 administrators to convince the Board to jump on the recess cancellation band-wagon this time around,” said Kootenay Columbia Teachers’ Union president Andy Davidoff asserted in a letter to the Castlegar News. “Our district did not cancel recess or shorten the secondary school day during a similar job action several years ago but it appears administrators do not have the stamina to do what teachers do every day, namely, do their regular jobs, and provide supervision.
“It is also ironic that our district is cancelling recess effective May 20th when SD#5 in the East Kootenays has just reinstated it.”