Teachers and administrators in the Saanich School District are planning for the next couple of weeks of uncertainty should teacher job action continue said Dr. Keven Elder this week.
Elder, the Superintendent of Schools for SD63, said he remains optimistic that school will continue as planned next week but that the district is also preparing for the worst.
“We’re all hoping for both parties to see the wisdom in mediation and have that occur and have a settlement in hand that’s fair for teachers and good for the system. But we also know there is the possibility we will go into the weekend without a collective agreement in place in which case we won’t be in a place to open the schools on Tuesday,” he explained.
Elder said that no matter when an agreement is reached, teachers and administration will need a full day to prepare to have students in the school.
“The main planning issue in front of us right now is in relation to timing of return which will determine how we start the school year.
“No matter what the situation, we would need a full day to prepare for the students’ return. Ultimately, we do look forward to a great school year and we know we will have labour peace, its just a question of when.”
Saanich Teachers’ Association (STA) Local President Mark Skanks said that the best place people can get information from is their teachers.
“Any parents who already had children in the system should have contacts in the system,” said Skanks.
“Teachers are the best source of information. I think more teachers have been engaged in this process recently than ever before,” he said, adding that the STA is also hoping parents will get involved.
“It really doesn’t matter what side of the dispute you’re in favour of; we’re asking people to mail, email, call their MLAs and ask that the two sides get to the table and mediate,” he said.
Skanks said with teachers having been out of work since June, the STA is starting to see some of its members struggle financially.
“We’ve been lucky that many teachers who are able to donate have, and we’ve raised about $6,000 that we turned into Smile Cards for Thrifty Foods so those struggling can at least afford groceries.
“We have about 500 teachers in the district, give or take, and so far about 40 have needed help for basics like groceries. We have teachers working at grocery stores, commercial fishing, cab driving, just to fill the gap. There’s definitely a lot of people suffering financially.”
For up to date information on back-to-school, check your school’s website (school supply lists can also be found there) or visit the SD63’s website at sd63.bc.ca.