District back to education priorities

B.C.’s 40,000 public-school teachers worked last school year without a contract

By Tim Petruk

Kamloops This Week

When students return to Kamloops-Thompson school district classrooms next week, the routine will likely be a lot more normal than it was at the start of the 2011-2012 school year.

“Last year, our focus for the year was basically labour-relations issues,” school-district superintendent Terry Sullivan told KTW.

“This year, there’s a collective agreement that’s in place and, hopefully, that will bring with it   some stability.”

B.C.’s 40,000 public-school teachers worked last school year without a contract.

Teachers had withdrawn extra-curricular and non-teaching services — including coaching, recess monitoring and report-card writing.

That meant many duties normally fulfilled by teachers were left to district staff, Sullivan included.

But, in late June, B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Susan Lambert announced a tentative deal with the province — an agreement that received ratification from teachers days later.

The two-year deal is retroactive to June 2011.

It is set to expire on June 30, 2013.

It came after months of bickering about Bill 22, a law seen by the BCTF as a way of strong-arming teachers into a contract.

Bill 22 would have seen stiff financial penalties for striking teachers and virtually wiped out class-size and composition limits.

In addition, Lambert said it would create a $100-million education funding shortfall.

Sullivan said the tentative deal is a good short-term fix.

“Teachers will be expected to perform their responsibilities,” he said.

“We want to get back to our priorities — teaching and education.”

Schools open their doors to the 2012-2013 school year on Tuesday, Sept. 4.