‘Back to normal’ in Abbotsford schools

Teachers return to extracurricular activities such as coaching and playground supervision.

  • Sep. 7, 2012 5:00 p.m.
Tuesday marked the first day back to school for almost 19

Tuesday marked the first day back to school for almost 19

Most Abbotsford teachers have returned to participating in extracurricular school activities, following a period in the spring that saw them step back from roles such as coaching sports teams, organizing grad events, and supervising students during breaks.

Jeff Dunton, president of the Abbotsford District Teachers’ Association (ADTA), said the organization has provided no directive to teachers on the issue. Most who participated in extra activities in the past are continuing to do so, he said.

“They still have the option to volunteer or not … but there are a number who are concentrating on their teaching and making sure they’re doing their best for their students in the classroom.”

Provincial job action began at the beginning of the 2011 school year while the BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) and the BC Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) were engaged in contract negotiations over issues such as wages and class size composition.

The first phase involved teachers refusing to attend staff meetings with administrators and take part in activities such as “meet the teacher” nights.

A three-day strike was held in March, followed in April by a further withdrawal of teacher involvement in activities they deemed “volunteer.”

Sports were halted, grad ceremonies were staged by administrators and parents, and report cards were not issued.

But 75 per cent of teachers who voted at the end of June favoured a tentative contract agreement which runs until June 30, 2013 and imposes a cooling-off period.

That contract provides improved benefits and seniority provisions but no wage increases.

Abbotsford school district spokesman Dave Stephen said on Tuesday morning that the situation in local schools appears to be “back to normal.”

“We have had no indication that teachers won’t be participating in extracurricular activities such as coaching, theatre productions, taking classes on field trips, etc. Administrators are meeting with teachers as per a normal school year,” he said.

School-based staff have returned to performing supervision duties, which in the spring had been taken over by administrators and managers. As well, report cards will again be issued.

Dunton said he anticipates a relatively smooth 2012-13 school year, but there is uncertainty ahead with the resumption of bargaining in March and the provincial election in May.

Meanwhile, the BCTF is continuing to pursue a court challenge against Bill 22, the legislation that passed in March that made it illegal for teachers to strike, imposed a cooling-off period, and introduced a mediator.