Shuswap teachers to withdraw voluntary services
Teachers in School District #83 have voted to recommend the removal of all voluntary services including coaching sports teams, assisting with music or drama productions and organizing graduation exercises.
The withdrawal of extracurricular activities is effective immediately through the North Okanagan-Shuswap Teachers’ Association (NOSTA) boundaries, which includes the School District #83 boundaries of Salmon Arm, Sorrento, Sicamous, Enderby and Armstrong.
“As a group, we have had our constitutional rights removed by Bill 22 and there are very few ways for teachers to get their message out,” says Lynda Bennett, president of NOSTA. “Teachers should not be expected to continue to subsidize an underfunded system with our unpaid time and our own money.”
Secondary school sports that will be impacted by the teacher’s recommendation include: girls soccer, rugby, track and field, tennis, golf, and mountain biking. At the elementary level, cross-country running and track and field will be curtailed.
In some cases, efforts are being made for parents to coach teams or for community leagues to replace school-based activities.
Teachers in some other school districts, including the Vernon School District, have already opted to withdraw participation in voluntary extracurricular activities of protest the provincial government’s legislation, which imposes a net-zero wage mandate and restricts job action.
Education Minister George Abbott has assigned a mediator to intervene in the dispute, however, the mediator’s mandate requires the implementation of a net-zero contract, which is hotly disputed by the BC Teachers’ Federation.
Bennett says the education system needs better funding.
“Here we have politicians proudly saying that we have the lowest personal income tax rate in the country, but what they are not saying is that B.C. has the highest rate of child poverty. This government is not funding education as it needs to be funded. They are not funding social programs that need to be funded and they are not looking after kids and families that need help.”
While some teachers have sent out individual letters to students about the withdrawal of volunteer work, others have alerted students by word of mouth.
Bennett says if parents or students have questions about the status of particular activities they should contact teachers directly.
This recommendation would be in effect until the province-wide vote by teachers on an BCTF action platform which is taking place April 17-19. It is widely predicted, however, that teachers province-wide will vote to withdraw their participation in extracurricular activities at that time.