SD63 superintendent sends letter assuring parents following lost class time

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Watch It's week 3, in a battle between school support staff in Saanich and their employer. No talks are scheduled and negotiation are at a stalemate. Parents and students are becoming increasingly anxious, but a letter from the superintendent says students will be able to progress on to their next grade and meet graduation deadlines.

A letter was sent Tuesday afternoon to School District 63 parents, assuring them their children will be able to progress on to their next grade and meet graduation deadlines.

The letter from superintendent Dave Eberwein says:

It is important to acknowledge the significant disruption this job action is causing for everyone – our students, parents/guardians, staff and the community. Our goal continues to be finding a solution that is fair to our employees and that gets us back into our schools as quickly as possible.

The intent of this letter is to discuss the potential implications for your child’s education for the remainder of the school year. While the duration of the strike remains undetermined at this time, there is some information that I can share to help alleviate some of the concerns you may have:

  • Students will not be prevented from moving to the next grade level or graduating because of the strike;
  • Once we return from the strike our priority will be on maximizing instructional time while still honouring specific school-based events that are core to a school’s culture or operations (e.g. secondary school graduation activities, elementary track day in June);
  • As with other previous workplace disruptions (e.g. snow days, power outages, previous strikes) various accommodations will be considered to teaching and assessment plans:
    • Focussing on core curricular objectives;
    • Minimizing or eliminating activities such as optional field trips;
    • Adjusting term dates;
    • Adjusting informal reporting including parent-teacher interviews;
    • Adjusting semester dates;
    • Adjusting report card timelines.
  • Students in Grade 12 will not lose their graduation year or any necessary credits towards post-secondary applications;
  • As post-secondary Institutions rely primarily on final marks when admitting students into programs our students will receive final marks for all of their courses;
  • Secondary schools will be distributing updates to parent communities regarding assessments, secondary school transcripts, post-secondary information sessions, and any key dates for post-secondary application deadlines;
  • Changes to the total number of instructional days, length of the school days, or altering established school breaks, will likely not occur due to contractual language obligations and parent/family time commitments.

We look forward to re-engaging with your children and providing them with the outstanding learning opportunities that Saanich Schools are known for when we return to our classrooms.

Earlier Monday, union members gathered outside Saanich MLA Lana Popham’s constituency office.

They said Popham, along with the province, has gone silent.

“Lana has been conspicuously silent. So we are wondering where her voice is,” said Dean Coates, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 441.

“We are not picketing the site, this is just pure information, we are asking for where Lana’s voice and we are asking people to honk if they want Lana to provide inclusive education in schools.”

Five-hundred support workers in SD63 walked off the job back in October, looking for wage parity with neighboring districts.

The district has offered increases between seven and twelve per cent, saying its the best offer under a provincial mandate, which caps salary increases.

Talks broke down between the two sides last week.

Fourteen schools and four other district facilities remain behind picket lines, and parents are continuing to feel the squeeze.

“It’s getting tougher definitely. Trying to find things for the kids to do, bills are adding up it’s starting to get to more of a strain,” said one parent.

“It’s really tough, it’s tough on her it’s tough on the family but we’re in support of equal pay and we know something has to be done at some point but it’s taking a toll on a lot of the Saanich peninsula families.”

Some parents are going even further. They plan to picket the school district office tomorrow morning at 11 a.m.

And Saanich School District students are also planning on holding a gathering at Education Minister Rob Fleming’s office from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The students will be asking the minister to direct the district and the union to remain at the table and resolve the strike as soon as possible. If that isn’t done, they will ask Fleming to introduce return-to-work legislation for classes to resume while an arbitrator works with both sides.

Julian KolsutJulian Kolsut

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