Nelson District Teachers Association president Paul Boscariol and teachers picketed outside the Prestige Lakeside Inn as the Kootenay Lake School District held a leadership meeting inside on August 20.

Students and parents left in education limbo

The Kootenay Lake school district met today for an opening celebration while Nelson District Association teachers picketed outside.

Pickets were up at near the Prestige Lakeside Inn as Nelson District Teachers Association (NDTA) president Paul Boscariol and teachers rallied outside the hotel this morning as the Kootenay Lake School District held a leadership meeting inside.

More than 20 teachers and supporters were there for what Boscario called “an information picket” as they are still on strike and without a contract. “Everyone here is in support of a solidly supported public education system,” he said.

Fifty people attended the leadership meeting except for the Kootenay Lake Teachers’ Association, which includes NDTA and Creston Valley Teachers’ Association and members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

This is the fifth year for this annual meeting and Kootenay Lake school district superintendent Jeff Jones said the date for the opening celebration was set last year and “we feel it’s a real shame that the KLFA and CUPE couldn’t be there.”

Job action by the BCTF teachers aside, Jones said they need to position their leadership staff to be ready for the school year.

“With spring job action, we haven’t been able to bring them together since May, certainly since the beginning of the full strike [which began June 17].”

In attendance was the senior leadership team, which includes the superintendent, directors, secretary and treasurer; business and operations staff, Kootenay Lake District Parents Advisory Committee and school principals and vice principals.

Boscariol told the Star that teachers were invited by the BCPSEA to enter classrooms voluntarily to prepare for the new school year in spite of the partial lock out.

“If we’re locked out, we’re not going [to the schools] to volunteer; we’re not covered by WorkSafeBC.”

Boscariol also spoke to the matter which is before the BC Court of Appeal. The BC Government appealed the BC Supreme Courts January ruling that the government did not negotiate with the BCTF in good faith in past contract negotiations and imposed a $2 million fine for damages.

The government appealed the ruling in February. While the BCTF and BCPSEA both presented their information to the BC Court of Appeal in the spring, they will likely not hear a ruling from the three judges until mid-October. The outcome of the ruling could have a huge impact on what ever contract is negotiated before then.

“We’re after a fair bargain as we have done so in the past,” said Boscariol.

In early August, the Ministry of Finance announced the Temporary Education Support for Parents which will offer a payment of $40 per day per child under the age of 13 years to help with learning and supervision in the event the labour disruption goes into September.

“What does that say about the government’s position of schools?” asked Boscariol.

On Tuesday the BCTF issued a brief statement on the contract negotiations with the BCPSEA. “It is with regret that we inform you that no resolution has been determined in the longstanding dispute at the bargaining table between BC teachers and the government. While there is still time for an agreement to be reached in order for students to return to school September 2, we are advising parents that they should be prepared for the very real possibility that school will not start as planned.”

L.V. Rogers secondary school principal Tim Hutterman and Jones were to meet with parents of LVR students on Thursday to discuss the potential impacts of the strike and how the school and district can respond to minimize the impact on the students should the strike continue into September.

The BC government has launched a new website to help parents navigate should the strike action continue.

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