March 19, 2014
I hope everyone is enjoying a happy and peaceful break.
Strike Vote and AGM
Our strike vote was a strong 89% . When and if 72 hours strike notice is served will depend entirely on what progress, or lack of progress, is made at the provincial bargaining table. One would hope that the recent court ruling and a strong strike vote would put some pressure on those negotiations. We will see what happens over the next few weeks at the table. The link to the reports from the table is: https://bctf.ca/myBCTF/
Kevin, Shawn and I attended the BCTF Annual General Meeting in Vancouver from March 15 – 18. As one might imagine, bargaining was a large topic of discussion. There has been minimal movement at the table and the employer continues to ask for significant concessions. Their salary offer includes a whole bunch of zeros. There are bargaining dates planned for early April. Much will depend on what happens during those negotiations.
SD 85 budget cuts
This falls under the category of don’t shoot the messenger
During the years of declining enrolment in SD 85, the district has received ‘funding protection’ from the ministry. This ‘protection’ ensures there is not more than a 1 or 2 % decrease in the annual funding despite what could be a relatively larger decline in enrolment. This funding protection will be gradually withdrawn over the next few years until the district’s funding is more reflective of actual enrolment.
The district believes it will need to institute more cuts over the next two years so the final withdrawal of funding protection will not be too dramatic.
To this end, at the School Board meeting last week, the Secretary Treasurer introduced the district’s plan to save just over $300,000 a year over the next two years. The proposal outlines cuts for the 2014-15 and the subsequent cuts for 2015-16. The proposal also outlines the principles under which the cuts will occur.
The full text of the plan is posted on the VINTA website:
One of the main principles of the cuts is to attempt to preserve class size and where possible to implement cuts through attrition.
The main cuts in the 2014-15 are the elimination of the resource centre and cutting the District Low Incidence / Behaviour Support position and the Literacy / Early Learning position.
The following year 2015-16, a District Principal position will be cut as well as reductions in Administration time and Non-Enrolling teacher time.
There are a number of other smaller cuts that are not clearly defined. When asked about those smaller cuts the Secretary Treasurer was unwilling to be more specific as they might affect employees who had not been notified of an impending cut. These cuts did not seem directed at teaching staff.
I expressed a very clear concern about these cuts to the Board. However, unless there is a change in the level of government funding it is very likely the Board will proceed with the cuts.
The Court of Appeal decision with respect to Justice Griffin’s recent ruling could have some impact on these planned cuts. However, the Court of Appeal will not hear the case until October – with a decision at some point after that. It will likely be too late to affect the 2014-15 funding.
So, I do apologize about being the bearer of bad news during spring break, but it is probably better to hear sooner rather than later.
Hope the rest of the break goes well.