(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

Dainty Dish signs off with Abbotsford School District

25-year partnership saw over 1.8 million lunches served; future of school lunch program unclear

Rolling with the punches: Abbotsford Mission Boxing Club finds new home

Club moves from Mission to Maclure Road in Abbotsford

Abbotsford Regional Hospital’s ER expansion still in the works

Deadline for construction proposals recently closes, but construction timeline unknown

Figures reveal spike in highway traffic jams between Abbotsford and Langley

Nearly one in 20 westbound vehicles between Abbotsford and Langley clocked at under 60 km/h

August agony: unlucky eighth month is busiest for Fraser Valley motorists

Serious slowdowns on Highway 1 are most common in August

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

Highway 1 closed near Revelstoke

No estimated time for opening

CRA program to help poor file taxes yields noticeable bump in people helped

Extra money allows volunteer-driven clinics to operate year-round

RCMP investigate two shootings in the Lower Mainland

Incidents happened in Surrey, with a victim being treated at Langley Memorial Hospital

Recall: Certain Pacific oysters may pose threat of paralytic shellfish poisoning

Consumers urged to either return affected packages or throw them out

How a Kamloops-born man helped put us on the moon

Jim Chamberlin did troubleshooting for the Apollo program, which led to its success

Sexual harassment complaints soaring amid ‘frat boy culture’ in Canada’s airline industry

‘It’s a #MeToo dumpster fire…and it’s exhausting for survivors’

How much do you know about the moon?

To mark the 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing, see how well you know space

Man with gunshot wound walks into Langley hospital

Injury suffered in Surrey incident, police believe

Most Read