The school year is over, as weekend contract negotiations failed to resolve the latest labour dispute between teachers and the Province of British Columbia.
Comments from teachers on the picket line at Similkameen Elementary Secondary School, last week were of the opinion that failure to resolve the impasse over the weekend would mean a long,drawn out strike that would end in back to work legislation.
We will have to see how that prediction turns out, but it seems obvious there will be no further progress during this school year or over most of the summer.
So begins the task, from both sides, of winning hearts and minds of the public in order to win the battle of public opinion.
We’re sure we’ll be seeing this in the form of press releases, photo ops and other opportunities as summer unfolds.
What we aren’t as certain we will see are hard, cold facts upon which we can base an informed opinion.
We know, for instance, how the students have been squeezed in this dispute, to the point now where graduating students are being cheated out of at least part of the formal experience of this rite of passage.
We also are sure the provincial government is basing its contractual offerings on increases that are commensurate to those offered to other sectors of the provincial government, in an effort to control escalating costs and rein in the provincial deficit.
We also know there are issues of class size and composition that need to be addressed, if not through financial, then philisophical means. Although this has been touted by many as the main issue in this strike, that doesn’t appear to have been the stumbling block in this weekend’s final negotiations. It appeared to be more about money than anything else.
Opinions about teachers’ salaries are subjective. We certainly can’t say definitively what constitutes reasonable pay for a teacher, but in forming an opinion, Similkameen taxpayers might find the following link useful:
About halfway down the page are two buttons where one can select the school district, then receive a pdf file containing Statement of Financial Information relating to school district salaries and expenses exceeding $75,000.
Contained in the pages of these lists are some cold, hard facts taxpayers most likely won’t be hearing about as the battle for our hearts and minds gets underway.