Jennifer Wolney

Jennifer Wolney

Revelstoke school board silent on teachers’ request for bargaining support

Revelstoke Board of Education silent on request by Revelstoke Teachers’ Association to support them in their bargaining with the province.

The Revelstoke Board of Education was silent on a request by the Revelstoke Teachers’ Association to support them in their bargaining with the province.

“I’m asking for a letter of support to ask the government to reconsider, or not consider the 10 year deal,” Jennifer Wolney, the president of the RTA, asked the Board of Education at its meeting last week.

Premier Christy Clark has said in the past she is seeking a 10-year contract with the B.C. Teachers Federation in order to provide stability in the public school system. The BCTF has rejected that proposal.

The BCTF held a province-wide vote last week where 96 per cent of its members voted against government interference in the bargaining process.

The province-wide vote followed last Monday’s announcement by Education Minister Peter Fassbender that he has asked for a “pause” in bargaining, to appoint a direct government negotiator for province-wide issues with a goal of reaching a 10-year deal. The current two-year agreement expired June 30; negotiations for the BCTF and the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA), representing school districts, have been ongoing since February. “We are not walking away from the table, we are walking toward it,” Fassbender said. “The work that has been done to date will not be lost. In fact, we want to build on it.”

In a letter to the Revelstoke Board of Education, Wolney asked the Board to write a letter of support rejecting Premier Clark’s proposal. “Urge the government to deal respectfully with teachers and bring resources to the bargaining table that will result in improved learning conditions for students, a fair deal for teachers and eliminate turmoil, acrimony and cuts to the public education system,” she wrote.

The letter was written before the events of last week, but Wolney said the principal still stood. “The system is constantly being eroded by people being underfunded, by people being undermined,” she said. “That’s not just happening to the teachers, but its happening to BCPSEA as well.”

Alan Chell, the chair of the Board of Education and of BCPSEA, was not at the meeting. Acting chair Mauro Morrone thanked Wolney for the letter, but no motion was introduced to support the teachers’ position.

“We’ll take your information as presented and we’ll move on to superintendent Mike Hooker’s report,” he said.