Five-year-old Ryder Roschat has been counting down the days until he gets to go to Kindergarten. He is so excited, and ready, to begin this new chapter in his life.
Therefore it breaks his mom’s heart to tell the eager student that he could be counting a lot more days if the teachers and government can’t reach an agreement.
“How do you tell a five-year-old?” said Raylene Roschat. “He’s so upset that they might not be starting in time.”
Roschat was one of several parents making a statement in front of Ellison Elementary Wednesday to urge the B.C. Teachers Federation and the government to reach a settlement so that Ryder can go to school as planned on Sept. 2.
Parents have been hearing different start dates, depending on how negotiations go.
“We’ve been hearing that November is going to be a start date,” said Lovona Farnsworth, a single mom with three kids who organized the neutral demonstration.
“I’m out just to prove a point to the teachers and the government.
“As parents we’re really concerned and would really like to see our children back in school in September instead of November.”
And it appears as though the majority of people support that, as Farnsworth estimated 800 to 900 honks within just the first couple hours of the demonstration.
“We’ve had so many honks and appreciation for what we’re doing.”
Along with the hardship a delayed school start will put on teachers and students with delayed classes, especially Grade 12 students, Farnsworth is concerned about the challenges for parents.
Even though she is currently unemployed, she says the delay will cause challenges in the work force as parents attempt to re-book schedules causing stress on employers and businesses.
“It’s going to affect the economy very much.”
She hopes Wednesday’s demonstration will show the two sides that something needs to be done now, not later.
“My point of it all today was really just to get everybody in to compromise,” said the mom of three children. “We teach our kids in elementary school that we need to compromise, so these two parties need to compromise too.
“I just want to get my kids back in school because that’s what they deserve.”
Farnsworth is planning on organizing another demonstration, for possibly Sunday, in front of Polson Park.
The government has announced that if school does not start on Sept. 2, parents will receive $40 for each day a child under 13 is not in school.
But most payments will be processed within 30 days after the month in which the labour disruption ends. Registration starts in September if school does not start.
More information is available at BCparentinfo.ca.
Vince Ready has met separately with both parties, but his biggest challenge is bringing both sides closer together.
The government says it is not prepared to legislate teachers back because it will not solve the dispute.