Teachers respond to chairman

Vernon Teachers Association president responds to board chairman letter regarding recess cancellation

Mr. Turanski’s letter to the editor on Friday, Dec. 9 implies that the board of trustees had something to do with the cancellation of recess, and yet there is no public record of any discussion of the issue. Why would this be in-camera?  Perhaps it wasn’t a board decision?  I asked that question back at the beginning of all of this but did not receive a response from Mr. Turanski.

During a strike, management usually finds ways to cover struck work. There is no secret here: this legal strike is an incentive to get freely negotiated collective agreements between School District 22 (our employer) and the VTA, and between BCPSEA and the BCTF. The intent of every action is to inconvenience administration without affecting students’ learning and that is exactly what is happening in spite of the confusion caused by administrators sending home ‘blank’ report cards. The strike is not hurting students: teachers are teaching and teachers are updating parents with student progress.

With regard to safe levels of supervision, at almost all of the schools there usually have been three teachers supervising recess.  For the record, Beairsto Elementary has two supervised lunch hours, but they normally would have only one recess.

Mr. Turanski stated that supervision would have to rely on the 14 exempt staff and school administrators for the 13 elementary schools. My math says that the district could easily cover the supervision because each elementary school has two administrative officers: 2 AO’s + 1 exempt staff = 3 supervisors.  Voila!

Mr. Turanski implies that taking district staff out of the board office for 15 minutes will cripple the operation of the district since their duties are critical.

I repeat, during a strike, management is expected to finds ways to cover struck work.  The high school administrators are available at recess, so a secondary vice-principal could walk down the road to an elementary school for 15 minutes while leaving the principal in charge at the secondary school. This gives the district another five administrators to cover recess supervision and is a simple solution to keeping five of the district staff at their desks.

The last paragraph in Mr. Turanski’s letter is simply incorrect: the teachers of this province are on a LRB supervised strike, and we are abiding by the LRB ruling which states that teachers will not do supervision unless the district can show that management have been fully utilized. The superintendent stated, “If teachers will do supervision of recess, then recess will be reinstated.” This is completely contrary to the LRB ruling.  Does that constitute “rejecting our offer” as stated by Mr. Turanski?  We aren’t interested in cheating!

There have been zero meetings with the union to discuss management’s supervision and no offer was made by the board to discuss supervision. The VTA has been trying to resolve this issue from the day it was announced by the superintendent prior to the startup of school. With no cooperation from the district staff, we advertised in local media, teachers sent letters home to parents and the VTA sent letters to PAC’s, encouraging them to contact the trustees. Mr. Turanski’s letter to the editor was the first public response by the board, and regrettably it was riddled with errors.

A Christmas wish is the hope that the new board will reverse the decision to cancel recess and will restore the bus schedule.

Bruce Cummings,

VTA President