Emerging from Teacher Job Action

Teachers are returning to all normal duties including preparing report cards, communicating with administrators, doing playground supervision and more. The end of the strike came about because of government intervention to end a stalled collective bargaining process. Bill 22, which received Royal Assent on March 15, 2012, ends collective bargaining (and thus the strike) and creates a mediation process between the BCTF and the BC Public School Employers' Association. That mediation is to conclude by the end of June.
As I know is the case for all of you reading this, I am relieved that the teachers' strike (known as phase one job action) is now over. Teachers are returning to all normal duties including preparing report cards, communicating with administrators, doing playground supervision and more. The end of the strike came about because of government intervention to end a stalled collective bargaining process. Bill 22, which received Royal Assent on March 15, 2012, ends collective bargaining (and thus the strike) and creates a mediation process between the BCTF and the BC Public School Employers' Association. That mediation is to conclude by the end of June.
Bill 22 does, however, contains a number of provisions that have generated a strong negative response from the BC Teachers' Federation. In fact, we are awaiting a province-wide vote by the province's 41,000 teachers on April 17-19, with decisions to be made regarding the ways in which teachers will protest Bill 22 and whether or not there will be a BCTF decree that teachers will stand down from all voluntary extra-curricular activities. Also being considered will be whether or not to plan for a subsequent vote on walkouts, which would be illegal and generate strong financial penalties for teachers and the union. Until that province-wide vote occurs teachers in Saanich have voted to "strongly encourage" their colleagues to withdraw voluntary extra-curricular activities. This is having a significant negative effect on our students and families, as well as on community partners that count on student involvement in programs (outdoor recreation camps for example). We regret that this is the case and commit as a district leadership team to doing what we can to support positive dialogue at the provincial level between teachers and government so that our teachers can generate renewed enthusiasm for this important voluntary work that our students need and depend upon in so many ways.
One of the questions yet unanswered is how and when distribution of report cards will occur. Government has directed that report cards must be prepared and distributed in the coming days, but the union has indicated that other than at secondary schools, teachers will not do that work because it was scheduled to occur before the legislation passed. This is a matter that will be resolved soon, likely through deliberations at the provincial level that will filter down to districts, but in the meantime we expect teachers to be in good ongoing contact with parents regarding students' progress.
We are optimistic about public education and the bright future that our students have by being part of a progressive and engaging place like the Saanich School District. We will get through these challenging times stronger for having faced them together in community.
Dr. Keven Elder
Superintendent of Schools