BY KATHY MCDONALD
The Principals and Vice Principals were about the only group that were not on strike when the school year started. By the end of September OSSTF had settled. ETFO teachers and occasional teachers have now ratified the terms of the agreement by the November 13th deadline. CUPE members, have until December 4th to do the same. Elementary schools can begin transitioning to their regular routines. During this period of transition parents must remember to be patient and understanding as it’s not business as usual just yet. There are relationships that need to heal; backlogs that need to be cleared; eager students waiting for their extra-curricular activities to resume and parents wanting report cards. As a mother of four, I understand the frustrations of parents but please pack your patience.
It is my belief that most teachers will be consummate professionals that diligently work to create resilient lifelong learners. Parents will still have a role to play throughout this transition period. If you feel the need to speak to your child’s teacher remember that parent /teacher interviews will be granted at the teacher’s discretion. They are not bound to conduct interviews this time. Teachers will only do interviews where they have a specific concern and so they can refuse a request for an interview. So if a teacher does not request to meet with you to discuss your child’s progress and you feel the need to you will have to politely request a meeting.
Parents need to remember, last June, some boards did not issue report cards (Boards selected by ETFO to be part of the Teachers work to rule). Only a letter of completion was issued at the PDSB. If principals provided marks in writing these marks did not go into the student’s Ontario Student Record (OSR). These marks will not be officially kept by the Board. Considering that no formal record exists I would advise parents that want these marks to ask for them before December.
Here are some of the highlights of the ETFO deal. Class sizes were capped. So is this a net zero deal after all? Well the money used to provide an increase in salaries to cover the cost of capping class sizes was generated from a reduction of elementary professional learning cutting one day of class time and by allowing teachers to cash in on banked sick days at today’s rate rather than the projected rate of retirement. ETFO will still retain the right to challenge Bill 115 (back to work legislation that was imposed on teachers in 2012). ETFO remains committed to reducing split classes and School Boards will implement the 2012 Health and Safety Task Force recommendations.
Is the debate about whether or not the $600,000 in the ETFO deal is a secret payout a matter of semantics? You decide. $600,000 was not directly deposited into the ETFO coffers slated for bargaining costs. They walked away with an extra $600,000 for professional development for supply teachers. Secondary teachers as well as elementary teachers will receive a 1% lump sum payment this year, 1% next year and 0.5% raise payment through the next school year.
ETFO also represents Education Support Personnel (ESP), Professional Support Personnel (PSP) and Designated Early Childhood Educators (DECE). ETFO is still negotiating for these members centrally. I remain optimistic that the worst is over. So parents, they are all coming: Progress Reports, IEPs (Individual Educational Plan), school council elections and meetings, pizza days, fundraising…those chocolates and Christmas delights, extra-curricular activities and so much more…including the training for the new HPE (Health and Physical Education Curriculum) . Ahh the New SexEd. Ohh… I am out of space. So in the meantime enjoy the ride. We will Labrish in two weeks.
Walk Good – Belle Marche!!