Workers perform seismic upgrades at Sunset Elementary School shortly before the start of the school year.

Workers perform seismic upgrades at Sunset Elementary School shortly before the start of the school year.

Job action creates few waves locally

PORT HARDY — Relations between administrators and teachers remained cordial through the opening weeks of the 2011-12 school year, though little movement has taken place in the stalemate between School District 85’s teachers and the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association on a new collective bargaining agreement.

PORT HARDY — Relations between administrators and teachers remained cordial through the opening weeks of the 2011-12 school year, though little movement has taken place in the stalemate between School District 85’s teachers and the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association on a new collective bargaining agreement.

“The teachers served notice of a job action on Sept. 6,” said SD85 superintendent Scott Benwell, who stepped in this school year to replace the recently retired Kathy Bedard. “To this point, we enjoy a problem-solving approach with VINTA (Vancouver Island North Teachers Association), and we appreciate the level of respect apparent in those negotiations.”

Benwell, who spoke during the Board of Trustees’ regular meeting Sept. 12, said the district has posted a job action tab on the SD85 website to keep parent apprised of developments. Teachers continue with classroom instruction but have refused to take on traditional administrative and support tasks.

VINTA representative Fred Robertson reiterated there had been no movement in negotiations as of Sept. 12, and said the union’s greatest concern was BCPSEA’s apparent desire to dismantle its right to bargain collectively.

“More than two-thirds of the BCPSEA board is made up of trustees,” Robertson said. “I do not believe our trustees want to strip bargaining rights from our teachers.”

New staff aboard

Two new members of the district staff were introduced during September’s meeting. Kelly Amodeo of Port McNeill was introduced by Benwell as Director of Special Services and District Principal of Students with Special Needs. Amodeo reported to the trustees on a recent meeting of the B.C. Council of Administrators of Special Education in Richmond.

“The trend in special education is moving away from a “pull-out” of students to co-teaching in the classroom with support workers,” she said.

Also introduced to the trustees was new Manager of Operations and Maintenance Darby Gildersleeve of Port Hardy. Gildersleeve took over in early August as the district was overseeing a major seismic upgrade of Sunset Elementary School in Port McNeill and additional upgrades to Alert Bay Elementary, Eagle View Elementary in Port Hardy and Sea View Elementary in Port Alice.