Unlike some other school districts around the province, Kootenay Lake School District will not be providing any childcare alternatives at local schools when the teachers walk off the job for three days starting Monday.
“Other districts may have the resources to be able to do that, but in our district we are asking for parents to keep their children home or find alternate childcare,” says Jeff Jones, superintendent of schools. “We simply will not have enough staff in our schools to provide adequate and safe supervision for children.”
Jones says it’s regrettable that parents will be left scrambling, but the options for the local district were few.
“I think that the Labour Relations Board has been quite wise in ensuring that there is adequate notice,” Jones says. “There is a letter going home with our students asking parents to find alternative childcare. Though it’s not the kind of notice we would like to give our parents, I think a day and over the weekend is adequate notice.”
Nearly 28,000 BC Teachers’ Federation members voted yes to the strike option out of the 32,209 who voted Tuesday and Wednesday, after the B.C. government tabled legislation to impose a “cooling-off period” to the end of August and impose heavy fines on the union and its members for strikes during that time.
The latest move in the ongoing struggle between the province and union was not welcome news at the local board office.
“It dismays me that we have to get to this point in conversation amongst adults about what is best for students and about how we organize a province, and locally, to meet the needs of our students,” says Jones. “We recognize that we have finite resources and wonder what we can do as a province to better use those resources. And it isn’t all about what we do with our teachers, that’s just one piece of the puzzle and I think it’s important for people to know that.”
Jones — who has been in the education field for 27 years and an administrator in district offices since 2005 — says he is not pointing fingers at the teachers.
“I absolutely respect the right of teachers to express themselves and to be political, I think that’s their right,” he says. “In our district we have worked very hard to walk the high road to ensure our relationships continue to be strong and we are continuing to be committed to what it is we are here for, which is our kids.”
For more information on the situation from the school board level log onto sd8.bc.ca. For continued coverage keep checking the nelsonstar.com throughout the job action.