What’s happening in schools?

I last wrote to you on September 2 regarding the current strike action being taken by the members of the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation (BCTF). Teachers throughout the province are engaged in phase I of teacher job action, while their union, the BCTF, is in contract negotiations with the British Columbia School Employers’ Association, in its role as the provincial bargaining agent for local boards of education.

Open letter to Kootenay Lake School District parents:

I last wrote to you on September 2 regarding the current strike action being taken by the members of the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation (BCTF). Teachers throughout the province are engaged in phase I of teacher job action, while their union, the BCTF, is in contract negotiations with the British Columbia School Employers’ Association, in its role as the provincial bargaining agent for local boards of education.

The purpose of my letter to you today is to update you regarding this province-wide teacher strike.

Phase I of the teachers’ job action focuses on the withdrawal of many services normally provided by teachers. In British Columbia, teaching has been deemed by the Labour Relations Board to be an essential service.

Therefore, during the first phase of the teachers’ job action, teachers are ensuring that a safe and effective learning environment exists for students in our schools. However, teachers have withdrawn many aspects of their jobs which are deemed by the Labour Relations Board to be non-essential.

This includes the preparation and distribution of formal report cards, and participation in parent-teacher interviews organized by school administration.

Teachers are required by the Labour Relations Board to provide marks for Grade 12 students for the purposes of graduation, applications to post-secondary institutions, and scholarship applications.

At this time of year parents are normally expecting to receive a formal report card regarding each student’s progress. This year, you will not receive a report card. The BCTF has encouraged teachers to communicate with parents regarding student achievement. Some teachers do this through a phone call, some through email, while others choose to write a note and send it home to parents. While we recognize that there will be inconsistencies regarding the manner in which parents receive information, we are confident that our teachers will ensure that parents and guardians are informed regarding student progress.

Unfortunately, the BCTF has asked its members not to communicate with administration regarding issues other than those which are related to the safety of students. Therefore, neither the district nor the principal of the school can ensure consistency in the type of messaging received by parents regarding student achievement.

In addition, parents may be expecting to be invited to parent-teacher interviews. Parents should know that during this strike action, the Labour Relations Board does not require teachers to participate in parent-teacher interviews organized by school administration.

I do not know how long this job action will continue. At this point, both parties continue to be engaged in the process of collective bargaining.

As a district, we continue to recognize that our teachers are committed to ensuring that each student can participate in a safe and effective learning environment. We are proud of our students, teachers, schools and our school district. I know that collectively we remain committed to each student in our care.

Please check our website frequently for updates regarding the strike action being taken (sd8.bc.ca).

Jeff Jones

Superintendent of schools