(Unsplash)

BCTF wins grievance over teacher shortage in public schools

Arbitrator found Chilliwack school district did not hire enough on-call teachers or librarians

The B.C. Teacher’s Union has won a grievance against the province’s school boards for not hiring enough on-call teachers or teacher librarians.

In a news release issued Monday, the union said that many school districts have not hired enough teachers to meet class-size and composition rules brought back in a November 2016 Supreme Court of Canada decision.

The decision restored class size and composition language stripped from the union’s contract in 2002.

The union’s grievance, filed last November, used Chilliwack School District as an example, although union president Glen Hansman noted that it was not the only school district who failed to hire enough teachers.

“Chilliwack is not the only district that could have hired more teachers and chose not to,” Hansman said.

“Hundreds more people applied for positions and some districts didn’t hire them, or even interview.”

READ MORE: 1,100 teachers to be hired in interim staffing deal

READ MORE: B.C.’s legal battle with teachers’ unions cost $2.6M

READ MORE: No more teacher shortage, B.C. education ministry says

Arbitrator Jennifer Glougie found that the B.C. Public Schools Employers Association had failed in its responsibility to hire enough on-call teachers to replace regular classroom teachers.

The shortage occurred, Glougie wrote, because former teachers-on-call took full-time teaching positions brought in by the Supreme Court decision.

According to the Chilliwack’s school district’s collective agreement, the association must replace any teacher who’s absent for a half-day or more.

Glougie also found that the school district breached its obligation to hire enough teacher librarians and further, that it was wrong in pulling librarians away from their duties to cover off classes that would otherwise not have teachers.

The union said that by using librarians to fill in teaching positions, the association went against requirements to use proper on-call teachers for the role, and forced librarians to do work that fell outside of their normal duties.

“It’s now the seventh week of the school year and there are almost 400 teaching jobs advertised,” Hansman said.

“This shortage was predictable and avoidable. It must be addressed immediately.”

Glougie said that although teacher librarians were “rarely” asked to cover for absent teachers prior to the union’s Supreme Court win, 27,295 minutes of teacher librarian time were used to cover for a lack of teachers in the 2017/18 school year.

“I am satisfied… that it represents a departure from previous years,” Glougie wrote.

“I am satisfied that the District’s use of teacher librarians to avoid the full impact of the teacher-on-call shortage had the effect of preventing teacher librarians from realizing the full benefit of the Supreme Court of Canada decision restoring the minimum staff ratios.”

Glougie noted that the school district’s reassigning of teacher librarians did not meet the “emergency” requirement set out in the collective agreement.

In a statement, Education Minister Rob Fleming blamed the previous Liberal government for “after years of cutting jobs and fighting teachers in the Supreme Court.”

Fleming said that schools were in a “much better place” compared to last year and highlighted the $400 million spent by the province to fill 3,700 teaching positions since the Supreme Court decision came down.

He did acknowledge that it remained difficult to fill specialized teaching positions and that the province had added 170 new post-secondary spots to educate teachers.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Limits raised at YQQ due to obstacles near airport

Some flights have been rerouted or cancelled due to some trees impacting the safety margins

No missed business hours for AIDS Vancouver Island despite neighbouring fire

Despite some damage to their ceiling and doors, AIDS Vancouver Island returned… Continue reading

Dead tree with eagle’s nest cut down in Comox due to safety concerns

The landowner was granted a permit to remove the tree

RCMP looking for information as thrift store fire investigation continues

Too Good To Be Threw suffered extensive damage after a late night fire on Sunday

Commen-Terry: Helping Hands to benefit flood victims

Fundraising concert Feb. 7 in Courtenay for those affected by Mariner Apartment flood

VIDEO: Here’s what the B.C. legislature officers are accused of buying

Personal trips, purchases, alcohol and more laid out in 76-page report by Plecas

Why would the B.C. legislature need a firewood splitter?

First sign of police involvement in investigation of top managers

New Canada Food Guide nixes portion sizes, promotes plant-based proteins

Guide no longer lists milk and dairy products as a distinct food group

YANA Online Auction runs until Feb. 8

Items include four pairs of tickets to sold-out Big Love Dinner

North Island College Activity Assistant program returns

Learn more at a free information session Feb. 6 - pre-registration required

Judge annuls hairdresser’s forced marriage to boss’ relative

Woman was told she’d be fired if she didn’t marry boss’s Indian relative so he could immigrate here

Liberals look to make home-buying more affordable for millennials: Morneau

Housing is expected to be a prominent campaign issue ahead of October’s federal election

Courtenay council approves new brewery proposal

Brewery in same neighbourhood as Whistle Stop

Most Read