Update Re: School Start-up And Provincial Labour Dispute

From SD34. The following is a message to parents/guardians, students and employees in Abbotsford School District from Superintendent Kevin Godden

August 20, 2014

The purpose of this message is to provide you with an update on the provincial labour dispute. As you are aware, the BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) and the BC Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) reached an impasse with regard to negotiating a new contract and, as a result, on June 17, 2014 the BCTF escalated to a full-scale strike. Unfortunately, the two parties have not made significant progress over the summer months and so the possibility of schools opening following Labour Day is uncertain.

We remain hopeful that the two parties will reach a negotiated settlement before schools are due to open. In the meantime, a decision on school opening will likely not be made until Friday, August 29th to provide the maximum amount of time to reach a negotiated settlement. Parents are encouraged to consult our district website (www.sd34.bc.ca) and follow the local media for any changes over the long weekend. There are two main possibilities:

1. If there is a settlement, our expectation is that all public schools in the Abbotsford School District will open on Tuesday, September 2nd. In this scenario, we anticipate that there may be some delays in regular instruction as course scheduling for students, particularly at the secondary level, may need to be adjusted. However, we will work hard to ensure that we resume the great teaching and learning that is the hallmark of our district. It is our intention to return as quickly as possible to normal school operations.

2. If there is no settlement, some or all schools in the Abbotsford School District may be behind picket lines. In this scenario, a withdrawal of service due to strike action or a lockout will again impact the school district’s ability to provide educational services for students. While schools will remain open we will not be able to offer our regular instruction as we do not anticipate that unionized staff will cross picket lines. As a result, we will again encourage parents not to send their children to school but to seek alternate childcare arrangements. The safety of our students is our highest priority. Should any students arrive at school while picket lines are in place, our school administrators will ensure that they are cared for until they can be safely returned to their homes under the supervision of a parent or guardian.

We have an outstanding public school system in British Columbia, and we are proud of the hard work and support provided by all staff in this school district. It is our hope that the labour impasse is resolved quickly at the bargaining table, and that our school district can soon return to normal operations.

Thank you for your understanding during this challenging time.

Kevin Godden,
Superintendent of Schools,
Abbotsford School District

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