Nelson District Teachers'Association president Paul Boscariol (left) with teachers on strike in June.

Celebration to go ahead without Kootenay Lake teachers

The Kootenay Lake school district is hosting an opening celebration on August 20 with its partner groups — but teachers won’t be there.

The Kootenay Lake school district is hosting an opening celebration next week with its partner groups — but teachers won’t be there.

The all-day meeting Wednesday at the Prestige Lake Resort is meant to focus on meeting the needs of the Kootenay Lake students, yet the Nelson District Teachers Association will not attend, said president Paul Boscariol.

It’s another casualty of the BC Teachers Federation and BC Public School Employees Association’s inability to come to a contract agreement.

Local teachers will not attend the annual event due to on-going strike action and a partial lock-out. But then again, Boscariol said, if Nelson teachers were polled, you’d be hard pressed to find one who knew about this annual event.

Looking at the email list of invites, Boscariol said maybe 10 teachers were addressed and of those, most provide special services, such as for the hearing impaired or a psychologist.

He added the usual two weeks of preparation time teachers do in the classrooms setting up bulletin boards, writing name tags, setting up centres for Kindergarten and elementary classes, or preparing lesson plans for a new Grade 5/6 mixed class or woodworking class is all on their own time.

“Woodworking teachers prepare course outlines and cut wood samples, math teachers work on lesson set up and science teachers do lab prep. What parents and teachers don’t see is all the preparation. Teachers don’t just show up to the first day of school and have everything ready for their students.”

Superintendant Jeff Jones said the tone of the district’s opening meeting will largely be determined by whether the strike continues.

“Regardless we plan to share our framework for our future orientation as we attempt to position the district to attend to student needs,” he said in an email.

“A significant shift for education is the move from a focus on 21st century skills and competencies, which should now be an expected norm in all learning environments as this as been a focus for over 20 years.

“We are now moving into a focus on global sustainability and the skills and competencies students and teachers will need to prepare our students for what is essentially a new world view. Normally this meeting is a celebration of our district’s significant accomplishments and an opportunity to set the stage for the new year.”

Meanwhile, in the face of continuing uncertainty about when school might start, the L.V. Rogers parent advisory council is hosting a meeting with Jones and principal Tim Huttemann next Thursday at 7 p.m. in the school library.

The parents group wants to discuss contingency plans in case the strike continues into September, whether the school calendar will be changed to make up lost time, and if so, what changes the district will propose.

“Although it is unclear when and how the strike will be resolved, the parent advisory council believes the district and school can still plan based on likely scenarios,” they said.

Teachers began full strike action on June 17 which ran into the end of the school year two weeks later.

Following a breakdown in talks between the BC Teachers Federation and BC Public School Employers Association, bargaining agents finally sat down again last Friday.

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