Teachers were pounding the pavement in Armstrong Tuesday in attempts to attract more support for kids.
Classrooms were empty as rotating strikes hit the North Okanagan-Shuswap School District, which includes Armstrong, Enderby, Falkland and Grindrod. Teachers within the Vernon School District (which includes Lumby, Cherryville and Coldstream) go on strike Thursday.
“Ya, we’d like a raise but the majority of us are here because of the kids,” said Highland Park Elementary kindergarten teacher Carol-Ann Lawson.
Just at her school, Lawson says the library is now down to two days a week and cuts to specialist teachers is hurting the kids, such as the 11 kids in her classroom who need speech and language support.
“I’ve been teaching for over 35 years and this is the worst under funding I’ve seen.”
It didn’t help when a retired teacher from Ontario stopped and told her that the last year he was working he made more than $100,000 a year and class sizes were 22 to one.
He, along with numerous others, stopped or honked to show their support for the teachers in their strike.
“They know and they’re quite supportive,” said Lawson.
Students Liam McLean and Madison Dalgleish even delivered a freshly baked batch of muffins for their teachers.
“Just to show our support and say thank you for everything the teachers are doing,” said mom Holly Dalgleish.
Retired teacher Judy Garlick even strapped on a sign and paced the sidewalks too.
“I’m here with my colleagues,” she said proudly.
Superintendent Glenn Borthistle could even hear the honks of support outside his office as teachers picketed out front.
He says the teachers are driven by good motives and while he too would love to see more funding, Borthistle says everyone has to live within their budgets and he hopes the “disruption” (strike) ends soon.
“For everybody in the system this is a distraction,” he said, expecting an announcement to be made by the BCTF by Thursday.
“It really does put a strain on relationships within our system.”
But the two sides are still quite far apart, he admits.