Elementary and secondary school students in Nanaimo and across the province could be back in class next week.
A tentative deal between the B.C. Teachers’ Federation and the province was reached early Tuesday. The deal will require ratification by teachers and according to Mike Ball, Nanaimo District Teachers’ Association president, the vote will take place today (Sept. 18) with results available tonight around 9 p.m.
The deal, which the union is recommending its members approve, would run until 2019, retroactive to July 2013. An e-mail from the union to its membership said the deal includes a salary increase of 7.25 per cent over the six-year length of the contract. A $105-million fund will help address grievances related to class size and composition.
Class size and composition language was removed from teachers’ contracts in 2002, which the union fought in court. The B.C. government is appealing two previous court decisions that sided with teachers in a case set to begin Oct. 14.
“The government is going to carry on … so if the agreement is ratified, it means that when the court case is done, that the two sides will re-open negotiations on the stripped provisions, which is basically class size and composition and the related articles, and they will start from whatever the court case says is the appropriate position, which should be the 2002 language,” said Ball.
Ball said pickets would remain until a new deal is approved.
The Nanaimo school district confirmed schools would open early next week but as voting results were not available, specifics couldn’t be provided. Dot Neary, school board chairwoman, expressed cautious optimism.
“I think the plan is to take a day to allow teachers to get themselves organized, the classrooms organized and get as much in place as possible … As far as I’m aware, our start-up procedure will be the same but I guess that plan might ebb and flow slightly depending on how things roll out” Neary said.