Superintendent: Two scenarios for school’s start

August 25, 2014 Dear Parents: The purpose of this message is to provide you with an update on the provincial labour dispute.

As you are aware, the BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) and the BC Public School Employers’ Association

(BCPSEA) reached an impasse with regard to negotiating a new contract and, as a result, on June 17, 2014 the BCTF escalated to a fullscale strike. Unfortunately, the two parties have not made significant progress over the summer months

and the possibility of schools opening following Labour Day is uncertain.

We remain hopeful that the two parties will reach a negotiated settlement before schools are scheduled to open. In the meantime, parents are encouraged to consult our district website (www.sd70.bc.ca) and follow media outlets for updates on the status of teacher bargaining. As to when the 2014/15 school year will begin, there are two possible scenarios: 1. If there is a settlement, our expectation is that all public schools in SD70 (Alberni) will open on Tuesday, September 2nd. In this scenario, we anticipate that there may be some delays in regular instruction as course scheduling for students, particularly at the secondary level, may need to be completed. However, it is our intention to return to normal school operations as quickly as possible. Opening day/week schedules vary school by school and are communicated by individual schools to students, parents and staff. Parents should review newsletters distributed last June, check SD70 and school websites and/or Facebook pages for updates and contact their child’s school if they have any questions regarding school opening schedules and procedures.

2. If there is not a settlement, some or all SD70 (Alberni) schools might be behind picket lines. In this scenario, a withdrawal of service due to strike action or a lockout will again impact the school district’s ability to provide educational services for students. While schools will remain open buses will not run and we will not be able to offer our regular instruction as it is unlikely that unionized staff will cross picket lines. As a result, we will again encourage parents not to send their children to school but to seek alternate childcare arrangements. Should any students arrive at school while picket lines are in place, our school administrators will ensure that they are cared for until they can be safely returned to their homes under the supervision of a parent or guardian.

I am disappointed that the normally exciting beginning to a new school year is shrouded in uncertainty. It is a frustrating time for everyone but I am particularly concerned about the impact on students caused by a prolonged labour dispute. I hope that the labour impasse is quickly resolved and that our district can return to normal operations and begin the year on a more positive note.

Thank you for your understanding during this challenging time.

Greg Smyth is Superintendent of Schools for SD70.