(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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Family Literacy Day event at Clearbrook Library and The Reach

Free activities taking place on Saturday, Jan. 25 include workshops and more

Abbotsford Police target 30 school zones in 30 hours

‘30 in 30’ project runs Thursday and Friday at all elementary schools

‘I was alone’: Abbotsford woman sends out warning to other women after robber attempts to force her to ATM

Manj Sidhu-Gill was alone in a parking lot on Jan. 15, when a man approached dressed in all black

Gunmen arrested after holdup of marijuana dispensary in Abbotsford

Two 18-year-old males demanded cash and weed before taking off on foot

Mistrial declared in Chilliwack’s David Lee Roth impersonator underage sex case

David Kuntz-Angel convicted in August but BC Supreme Court Justice’s ‘mental faculties’ questioned

VIDEO: Rare ‘ice circle’ spotted on Kamloops river

An ice circle or ice pan, has formed in the chilly waters just east of the Yellowhead Bridge

B.C. man rescued after getting trapped headfirst in well as water level rose

The rescue involved crews from Oak Bay and Saanich

Investigators in wildfire-torn Australia head to site of B.C. airtanker crash

The B.C. government sends condolences to Port Alberni-owned Coulson Aviation

Mud slide prompts evacuation in Burnaby as rain saturates southern B.C.

About 20 metres of a five to six-metre high wall gave way

RCMP investigating sexual allegation against Lower Mainland police officer

Delta officer suspended while the alleged off-duty incident involving a co-worker is investigated

Former Mountie, sports coach convicted of sex abuse in B.C. granted day parole

Alan Davidson was sentenced to almost six years for abusing seven boys in the late 1970s and early 1990s

VIDEO: Person in wheelchair narrowly avoids collision with car in Kelowna

There were no injuries in the scary looking near-accident last week in Rutland

Here’s what Canada is doing to stop the coronavirus from getting in

Health officials are monitoring multiple possible cases in Canada

Fraser Valley poultry producer’s $130,000 fight with the CFIA earns him a red-tape award

Canadian Federation of Independent Business Paperweight Awards ‘honour’ government over-regulation

Most Read