Here is one of many slides used during a presentation by SD69 (Qualicum) superintendant Rollie Koop and assistant superintendant Gillian Wilson made in response to claims raised by an education assistant. — Adam Kveton

Qualicum school district staff respond to EA claims

Board chair calls out CUPE for making claims in public forum

After two presentations by education assistant Julie Fowler bringing up her concerns around EA overtime pay and short work weeks, the school board appeared to have heard enough.

School District 69 (Qualicum) senior staff gave a presentation at the start of the school board’s Sept. 26 board meeting in response to Fowler’s concerns, which she lodged on June 27 and Aug. 29 during CUPE’s allotted time at the start of two successive board meetings.

The senior staff presentation was made directly after board chair Eve Flynn explained why CUPE should not be using its allotted time at the start of board meetings to raise such concerns.

Saying that such time is meant as an informal chance for partner groups to share their good works, Flynn said it is not meant to bring up employment matters, which she said should be confidential.

Bargaining, grievances and other avenues are more appropriate means to voice these kinds of concerns, she said, adding that “a tone of respect and civility” is expected during these pre-board-meeting presentations.

Superintendent Rollie Koop and assistant superintendent Gillian Wilson then went on to give their presentation.

“You heard a very clear perspective that one of your partner groups shared,” said Koop, adding that he hoped this presentation would “bring balance to the conversation.”

Much of the pair’s presentation focused on explaining how complicated supporting students with various needs is, emphasizing how those needs change constantly, and how SD69 has been ahead of the curve when it comes to providing those supports, they said.

They pointed out that, while the student population in the district has been dropping for a decade, there has been an increase in investment in EAs over the past several years.

However, apparently to address EA hours and changing schedules, Koop and Wilson said that budget concerns, and the need to provide for students above all else, means EAs have work only when a student needs them.

“We are not in a position to provide support when it’s not needed,” said Koop.

To address claims around EA work weeks, the pair presented a slide showing that the district has 23 EA positions at 20 hours a week, 10 positions at 22.5 hours a week, 24 positions at 25 hours a week, and 43 more at 27.5 hours per week.

The same slide showed that, at elementary schools, there are 24 hours and 25 minutes of educational time, and at the secondary level, 26 hours and 25 minutes.

Next they addressed pay, saying that, at $28.11 an hour, SD69 EA hourly pay ranks second in the province, with Port Alberni having a higher rate at $28.85.

SD69 EAs also receive a full benefit package (regardless of being part-time), which means it does not save the district money to have more EAs that work fewer hours, they said.

However, it does mean the needs of students can be better met, said Koop.

He also said, in response to Fowler’s claim that her superior had been disciplined after she made her first presentation, that that did not happen.

Nor do schools hold conversations in person, instead of through email, to avoid a paper trail, as Fowler suggested, said Koop. Having those conversations first is part of board policy, he said.

Wilson and Koop finished their presentation saying that trust has to be restored between EAs and the district.

CUPE later declined to use its allotted presentation time, saying only that a letter had been written and the board should receive it soon.

Send news tips to:

adam.kveton@pqbnews.com

Just Posted

Town of Qualicum Beach to sell more than $5M in real estate

Sales to pay for recent real estate purchases, including St. Andrews Lodge

France doubles up Croatia 4-2 to win World Cup

Played in Moscow Russia, latest Fifa World Cup marks the highest scoring final since 1966

Living with obsessive compulsive disorder

The Big Read: Vancouver Island mom calls for more mental health services as son battles OCD

Parksville councillor says info more ‘forthcoming’ in the future on supportive housing project

Leanne Salter said she was ‘kept in the dark’ on details about 222 Corfield St. South

VIDEO: Top winners announced for sand sculpting competition

See the sculptures as they progress through the competition at Parksville Community Park

VIDEO: Firefighters put out brush fire in Nanaimo

Fire broke out in the area of a new development under construction in East Wellington

Former NHL goalie Ray Emery drowns in Lake Ontario

Police say the 35-year-old’s death appears to be a ‘case of misadventure’

Air quality statement warns of smoky air for Kamloops area

Environment ministry says area on north side of Thompson River may be affected by wildfire smoke

Pussy Riot claims on-field protest at World Cup final

Russian protest group claimed responsibility after four people ran onto field in police uniforms

Fans party on Montreal streets after French World Cup win

To city is home to nearly 57,000 French nationals

B.C. VIEWS: Making private health care illegal again

Adrian Dix battles to maintain Cuba-style medical monopoly

Almost every part of Canada’s largest national park deteriorating: federal study

Drawing on decades of research — the report lists 50 pages of citations

Activists protest outside Kinder Morgan terminal in kayaks, canoes

Tsleil-Waututh elder Ta’ah Amy George led the water ceremony from a traditional Coast Salish canoe

Most Read