These teachers were picketing outside Kwalikum Secondary School in Qualicum Beach on Tuesday.

These teachers were picketing outside Kwalikum Secondary School in Qualicum Beach on Tuesday.

Emotions run high at Qualicum school board meeting

Teachers’ union prez not happy with superintendent’s comments

With little sign of progress in the provincial labour situation, emotions were running high at the first School District 69 board meeting of the school year on Tuesday night

“We recognize we’re in the midst of what is a dispute between the provincial parties,” District 69 superintendent Rollie Koop told the board.

“We value our local relations with CUPE and with the Mount Arrowsmith Teacher’s Association (MATA) and we want to do everything we can to allow the parties to work through that to bring pressure where we can, encouragement where we may,” he said in the context of the readiness of reconfigured schools.

MATA president Debbie Morran wasn’t happy with Koop’s comments, waiting for question period at the end to rebut.

“I just want to make a comment Rollie, in terms of your perception that this dispute is between the provincial parties, because I can tell you that for every single teacher in this audience tonight, this dispute is not about the provincial parties,” she said, clearly upset.

“This dispute is all about teachers, every year, in every local, going out of their own pocket to buy supplies for their classroom because they don’t have the tools that they need to teach the students in their class.”

“It’s about every teacher, in every local, including every school in our district who see students in their class not getting the support they need and trying their best to do everything they can to make that child experience success and for you to sit there and say that this dispute is between provincial parties is a slap in the face to everybody that’s here tonight,” she said getting emotional as board chair Lynnette Kershaw interrupted her saying it was inappropriate.

Kershaw supported and paraphrased Koop’s comments as saying that the bargaining situation is out of local hands. “We at this local level cannot affect, or be part of that decision making process.”

Morran continued, quietly, “That’s the apathetic — we can’t do anything about this — that’s just going to drag this dispute on and on,” she said before leaving the room.

During her regular report earlier in the meeting, Morran had said that union representatives had come away from a provincial meeting in Kamloops, “with renewed solidarity and a determination to achieve a fair deal.”

“We can’t continue to maintain the system, buffering it against the $275 million that’s been removed each and every year since 2002,” she said, adding she is hopeful a deal can be reached in time for the beginning of the school year (Sept. 4 in this district).

She asked for parents, the community and “this board of education to call on (Education) Minister Fassbender… to get back to the bargaining table to start talking again,” she closed to a big applause from the full audience.

There are various rallies taking shape, including one at a location to be determined by District 69 parents and students at 9 a.m. Sept. 2 and a provincial one outside the premier’s Vancouver cabinet offices on Sept. 5. Kershaw pointed out that the board sent out a letter Aug. 8 “urging both sides to get children back to the classroom . . .  whatever that takes.”

In her regular update, CUPE local president Lisa Paine said she is disturbed by the government’s pledge to give parents of students under age 13, $40 a day.

“Wouldn’t that money be better utilized for a negotiated fair and reasonable settlement for the teachers? Us in CUPE certainly think so,” she said.

“The bigger picture is about divisiveness… having people who work together start to fight amongst each other and that’s not okay. That causes me and my members serious concerns,” she said, summing up that she hopes they can all work together for the students.

With school scheduled to start next Sept. 2 in most districts (Sept. 4 in District 69), the picket lines are back up after a summer break and the provincial government and teacher’s union don’t have talks scheduled.

After the Kamloops meeting, B.C. Teachers Federation president Jim Iker demanded an immediate start to mediation, while the government is saying that the teachers’ pay and benefits demands are too far above other public sector settlements to negotiate.

Fassbender reiterated Monday, that the government has no desire to legislate the teachers back to work. Veteran mediator Vince Ready is monitoring the talks and has indicated he will step in if it would be productive, but both sides blame the other for a gulf that’s too wide for Ready to attempt to bridge.

Negotiations are complicated by the BCTF insisting on preconditions to talks based on two Supreme Court decisions in their favour over class size and composition that the province is appealing.

The government has tabled a clause that would allow either side to terminate any agreement if it dislikes the court outcome.

— with files from Jeff Nagel, Black Press

Just Posted

Pam Bottomley (executive director), right and Sandy Hurley (president) of the Parksville Downtown Business Association visit the PQB News/VI Free Daily studio. (Peter McCully photo)
PQBeat: Downtown Parksville gears up for post-pandemic bounce back

Podcast: Hurley, Bottomley chat about what’s ahead for the PDBA

(Black Press file photo)
RCMP: Air ambulance called to Whiskey Creek after crash involving 2 motorbikes

Both riders taken to hospital with serious injuries

(File photo)
Crime report: Crooks busy pilfering bikes throughout Parksville Qualicum Beach area

Thefts among 295 complaints Oceanside RCMP deal with in one-week period

The Arrowsmith Search and Rescue logo on the back of a service vehicle. (Mandy Moraes photo)
Parksville and Qualicum Beach provide letters of support for Arrowsmith Search and Rescue

ASAR asks for increase in funding, one-time capital grant and for RDN to buy out current facility

The proposed running track upgrade at Ballenas Secondary is now on course. (PQB News file photo)
RDN: Parksville track upgrade project gains some traction

Staff recommends board approve $204,000 funding

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Gabriola Island artist Sheila Norgate is promoting the Digital Innovation Group’s art impact survey. (File photo)
Vancouver Island artists get behind regional arts impact study

Artists urged to use their stature to help put arts and culture super-region on the map

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Neighbours on edge of Nanaimo city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

Darren Campbell’s truck (pictured) was stolen when he stopped to check on a car in a ditch on Cowichan Bay Road on Monday morning. (Facebook photo)
Vancouver Island Good Samaritan’s truck stolen in nasty trick

‘Try to be a Good Samaritan and my $20,000 truck gets stolen right under my nose’

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Creative handmade signs abound at the June 13 Tofino rally for old growth trees. (Nora O’Malley photo)
VIDEO: Tofino stands in solidarity for Fairy Creek Blockades

Over 150 supporters attend rally hosted by Friends of Clayoquot Sound

Most Read