Teachers are voting on a tentative contract with school districts and the province. If approved

Teachers are voting on a tentative contract with school districts and the province. If approved

Vernon, North Okanagan teachers voting on deal

Even if teachers accept a new contract, it doesn’t necessarily mean extra-curricular activities will resume in the fall.

Even if teachers accept a new contract, it doesn’t necessarily mean extra-curricular activities will resume in the fall.

Teachers are voting on a tentative agreement with the employer today, but there is nothing that forces teachers to resume duties with sports teams or clubs because they are voluntary.

“A lot of teachers are feeling they don’t have the respect they deserve and will withhold from volunteering,” said Bruce Cummings, Vernon Teachers Association president.

“But some things will pick up again.”

The union points out that it’s always been up to individual teachers to decide if they participate in extra-curricular activities.

“If it were me, I’d be questioning how much time I’d be volunteering because of a district and ministry that doesn’t support teachers and doesn’t provide resources to support teachers,” said Lynda Bennett, North Okanagan-Shuswap Teachers Association president.

Teachers withdrew from extra-curricular activities in March after government legislation forced an end to a labour dispute that had started last fall.

Bill Turanski, Vernon School District chairperson, is reluctant to speculate on how teachers may handle sports and clubs.

“Teachers always have the best interest of students in mind and they will do whatever they believe is necessary,” he said.

“I hope things will get back to normal.”

The B.C. Teachers Federation is asking its members to ratify the tentative agreement, which runs until June 30, 2013.

“We did want a negotiated settlement, which this is,” said Bennett.

“The other side, though, is if we don’t accept it, the government will likely legislate a contract and take huge chunks out of the agreement.”

Cummings says he can support the terms of the contract.

“It doesn’t address issues like salary, class size and composition. But it potentially gives us a year to come off a confrontational approach,” he said of further discussions that are expected.

“Our collective agreement won’t be stripped of a lot of provisions which is what we faced (under a legislated resolution).”

The results of the BCTF vote will be released late today.

“We’re certainly hopeful the teachers will ratify the agreement,” said Turanski.

“But we have to keep in mind that a lot of issues are not resolved and they still have to deal with them.”

The B.C. Public School Employers’ Association, which represents the province’s school districts, will vote next week.