(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

Surrey Food Bank boss Feezah Jaffer on Cheerios box

It’s part of a General Mills campaign honouring food bank heroes

Surrey history buff transcribes her way to a provincial award

‘It can be tedious work but it’s also very interesting,’ Diane Johnson says

Surrey’s Alan Clegg sits down for a socially-distanced chat about his life in Cloverdale over the years

Clegg chats about his time as a volunteer firefighter, 1962’s Typhoon Freda, and how he’s been holding up during COVID-19

Appeal court overturns Surrey sexual assault acquittal, orders new trial

Appeal court judge says Surrey court failed to consider evidence of ‘passive dishonesty’

Surrey cadets need new home as COVID-19 limits options for growing 767 Dearman squadron

‘We’re now the second largest air cadet squadron in the province,’ commander says

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

We’re asking you to lock arms with us, as we look to better days ahead

B.C. First Nation adopts Dr. Bonnie Henry, names her ‘one who is calm among us’

Gitxsan officially adopts the provincial health officer in a May 22 ceremony

Kelowna man charged with harming a hamster

The 20-year-old Kelowna man faces several animal cruelty charges

High tech fish transport system set up to ‘whoosh’ salmon past Big Bar landslide

Fish will spend roughly 20 seconds inside the system, moving at roughly 20 metres per second

Trudeau to seek 10 days of paid sick leave for Canadian workers, says talks are ongoing

Paid sick leave is key to keeping COVID-19 spread under control, prime minister says

Snowbirds jets will not be leaving Kamloops, just yet

The Snowbirds have been in Kamloops since May 17 when a plane crashed killing Capt. Jennifer Casey

COVID-19 checkpoints ‘up to them,’ Bonnie Henry says of remote B.C. villages

Support local tourism economy, but only if you’re invited in

Vancouver Island hasn’t seen a new homegrown case of COVID-19 in two weeks

Island’s low and steady transmission rate chalked up to several factors

Most Read