Go after province for money: COTA

It’s time for the local board of education to start hammering the province to return funding stripped by the elimination of negotiations over class size, composition and ratios for specialist teachers, the Central Okanagan Teachers’ Association president says.

Earlier this month a landmark decision by Justice Susan Griffin deemed Bill 27 and 28, which removed teachers’ right to negotiate on all three fronts from the collective bargaining agreement, unconstitutional and illegal.

The bills, brought in under then education minister Christy Clark, were said to provide more flexibility in composing classes, but the judge estimated they also striped an annualized $275 million from the provincial education budget.

“Think what you could have done without the stripping of that language,” said Alice Rees, COTA president.

Rees was quick to point out the diligence of the local board, thanking them for their persistent letter writing on the matter.

“We’ve been working very, very hard to get this judgement,” she said, adding teachers in Okanagan classrooms have worked even harder to deal with the effect of the legislation.

Rees asked the board of education to demand restitution and to return to those letter-writing roots and refuse to back down on the matter.

“I will not, nor will any teacher accept, that there isn’t money in the budget when the roof on the dome cost ($458 million),” she said.

Meanwhile in other news, Central Okanagan school trustees will not get a pay raise this year.

The board of education must decide annually whether to give themselves a raise—though guidelines on how to do so are not provided.

Despite suggestions from the finance committee to go with a one per cent increase, the motion failed at Wednesday’s board meeting and a unanimous vote not to raise the rate of remuneration followed.



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