From the President’s Desk . . .
Welcome to the 2012/13 school year!
It certainly appears that this school year will be very interesting – although it will hopefully not be as stressful as last year.
The new collective agreement will see very little gains for teachers. The collective action of teachers and the support of the public had to have played a role in the government changing their mind and signing an agreement that did not impose any concessions. Peace River South teachers will be voting on whether to implement the provincial standardized extended health plan or keep the plan currently in place during the third week of September. Notices will be sent to staff reps.
Districts across the province are now consulting with teaching staff and local unions to reach an agreement for Learning Improvement Fund spending plans. The Learning Improvement Fund is a strategy implemented by the government to satisfy the decision of the BC Supreme Court that required that the Liberal government negotiate a remedy with the BCTF for stripping language from the collective agreements in 2002.
Already it appears that the money provided by the LIF is not sufficient to make a real difference for students. In School District 59, schools will need to request LIF funds from the district by identifying student/classroom needs that cannot be met through regular school funding. It is unlikely that the funds will be sufficient to meet the requests. The funds will do little, if anything, to actually improve the learning situations for our students or the working conditions for our teachers.
However, there may be some light on the horizon. The BCTF is taking the Liberal government back to court to ask that the Court provide a remedy since the government is so unwilling to compensate teachers for the ten years that they have been teaching in underfunded classrooms. The court dates are scheduled for the month of December.
In the meantime, have a great and very rewarding school year.
Blair Lekstrom, MLA for Peace River South, announced on September 4th that he won't be running in the next provincial election. Mr. Lekstrom was first elected as MLA in 2001. He served as Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, Minister of Community Development and Ministry of Transportation.
Mr. Lekstrom voted in favour of Bill 22, the legislation that once again restricted BC teachers' right to strike and negotiating a collective agreement.
Mr. Lekstrom's announcement meant that Christy Clark has lost almost 30 percent of her caucus. A poll by Forum Research on August 30th indicated that the Liberal government has sank to 23 percent support.