This fall, Comox Valley students will be dismissed early on Fridays and teachers will have a full hour of afternoon prep time, as per a new Alternate Instructional Week. Monday to Friday will become a 4.6-day week.
The Comox District Teachers’ Association is filing a grievance with the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association.
“From our point of view, the whole concept is based around re-arranging teachers’ prep time to save money by having fewer teachers,” CDTA president Nick Moore said. “Secondary teachers, specifically, are distraught.”
He said teachers will work up to 60 additional hours in the school year, which equals about 11 days.
“Every secondary teacher is going to be teaching an additional class of students,” Moore said. “It’s possible that a teacher could have 240 kids next year in secondary. That’s too much.”
From Monday to Thursday, high school students’ first block will run from 9:20-10:40 a.m. Last block is 2:05-3:20 p.m. They will receive four hours of instruction on Fridays.
While some are concerned about the new-look Friday, Moore says others will recognize opportunities involved with the schedule.
“Each secondary school is going to decide what Friday’s going to look like,” he said.
Elementary students will receive three hours of morning instruction and two hours in the afternoon from Monday to Thursday. Fridays will include three hours and 16 minutes of instruction.
“The big change in elementary is that there’s no formal, standardized recess any more,” Moore said, noting a daily allotment of 15 minutes for physical activity.
Fridays also include 65 minutes of ‘curriculum implementation time’ and 40 minutes of teacher prep time.
Because the union is filing a grievance, the school board cannot debate the issue in public. A process is in place to resolve differences based on the collective agreement.
“It’s certainly within their (CDTA) prerogative to proceed if they feel that it contravenes the collective agreements,” school board chair Tom Weber said. “It is the employer’s position that it does not.”
SD71 expects the Alternate Instructional Week will save $1.75 million. Trustees and district staff have been dealing with a $2.8 million shortfall for the 2016/17 school year.
Moore understands the rationale behind the 4.6-day week, noting a shortage in government funding. However, the CDTA is concerned the concept might spread to other B.C. school districts.
“We want to stop it here and now,” Moore said.
View the Alternate Instructional Week at sd71.bc.ca