Teachers respond

It is necessary to clarify points made by Vernon School District chairperson Bill Turanski in a recent article.

RE: Cash lacking for professional days (July 1)

It is necessary to clarify points made by Vernon School District chairperson Bill Turanski in a recent article.

Chairperson Turanski says that professional development funding comes out of the district’s operating budget, which comes from per student funding. According to him, funding teacher professional development at a comparable level to other school districts of our size and location in this province would cost “an additional half-a-million dollars”. Perhaps Chairperson Turanski would like to explain how, according to a 2010 budget line item called professional development and travel $357,561 (of a budgeted $617,344) was spent. In 2009, it was $433,969. Of this amount, only $91,000 is provided to teachers. How would increasing funds for teachers to stay current, cost an additional half a million dollars?

Although teachers have the option of two days paid time to attend a conference, many don’t use these because they can’t afford the cost of the conference, workshop or travel.

The two local conferences that were available to teachers last year were planned and funded by the Vernon Teachers’ Association and member fees. Again, we are paying for and funding our own professional development.

Chairperson Turanski also states that the amount of money teachers receive for professional development is a “locally negotiated” item. This statement is completely false. When the teacher negotiating team tabled language advocating for increased professional development funding (it was for much less than the stated $1,000, by the way) the management team would not discuss it, stating that they have a mandate from the board not to discuss what they see as a “provincial item,” even though all teachers in the province do not have access to equal amounts of professional development funds. This is completely dependent on the school district in which one works. We are surprised and disappointed that the board chairperson is getting involved in bargaining only after the local bargaining sessions have been completed.

We simply would like our board to be honest, transparent and accountable. We would like our board to bargain in good faith.

Robyn Ladner,

Professional development chairperson

Vernon Teachers Association