A number of updates as we move into what should be the third week of school:
As you know, the strike has run through September 12 and is likely to continue into the week of September 15. Our trustees and management staff are acutely aware of the challenges that this creates for students, parents and all of our unionized staff who we know want nothing more than to be back working with children and families. As district and school management staff we are focused on three things.
First, we are working hard behind the scenes through our provincial organizations to bring pressure and support to the parties in the interest of moving toward a solution. Second, we are connecting as often and in as many ways as we can with our unionized teaching and support staff to provide supports and maintain relationships. Third, we are doing the work that is required to get schools ready for the start that we know is coming. Having done all of the June and September organizational work without teachers, support staff, counsellors and others key to planning has made it very difficult to be ready for students on day one, so we may still need a day of staff-only after the strike ends, but we will cross that bridge when we come to it.
Parents and students are urged to continue with general learning supports through the websites and community resources listed in my September 3 post entitled “Strike Update and Information for Parents re Resources.” Alongside the advice in that post was notice that we are unable to organize for distribution of textbooks or other resources in our schools given the magnitude of that work and the uncertainty of which teachers will need which resources.
Fees and Potential Adjustments
We are considering whether or not, and if so to what extent, fee reductions will need to be implemented due to lost time and services. With the strike moving into week three we will have lost 5% of the year and that triggers our consideration of whether or not it is possible to pro-rate some fees (one example being transportation fees). This will be a decision taken by the Board of Education based on advice from senior staff.
We continue to be hopeful that a negotiated settlement will emerge in the coming days. In the meantime, thank you very much for your patience and your continued advocacy for public education.
Dr. Keven Elder