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Kamloops teachers back to picket lines

Sonia LaFleur, Sandra Yeast and Jason Karpuk are among those picketing in front of secondary schools, and the school district office, this week.
August 26, 2014 - 1:34 PM

KAMLOOPS - The pickets are back up as we close in on the last week of summer break, and with that the hope of being able to start school on time is dwindling.

After a break over the summer, teachers hit the pavement again Monday and plan to be there every day until a deal is made.

“The interim plan is to continue picketing at least until the end of the first week of September,” local teacher union president David Komljenovic says. “The general meeting on Sept. 5 will relook at actions should we not get an agreement by then.”

In the meantime school administration is trying to get ready for a Sept. 2 start. With teachers currently only picketing secondary schools, staff have been able to enter elementary schools, which in turn makes it easier on parents to register and for staff to finish up work on summer projects such as floors and classroom setup.

“Where there’s no picket lines, we’re working. We’re hoping to get as much done as possible,” he notes. “Our goal is to be able to open as soon as we get a settlement.”

For students and parents not wanting to cross picket lines at secondary schools forms are available on the district website that can be printed off and submitted to the district to help with registration.

The school district recognizes the strike has been worrisome for parents, as well as inconvenient.

“There’s a lot of concern over whether they will get enough schooling this year,” de Bruijn says, “We will make sure they are given a quality education. I have complete faith in our teachers.”

De Bruijn says they are keeping a close eye on things and will likely let parents know about school start date changes through a synervoice message. He notes even he is becoming sceptical over whether a deal can be made before then.

“I always have hope, I’m a proverbial optimist,” he says. “But this is even testing me a bit.”

As of today, Kamloops Grades 1 to 7 students at elementary schools are scheduled for 10:30 a.m. to noon while secondary students are scheduled for 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Brock Middle School Grade 7 and leadership students are set to begin school at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday while the rest of Brock students will attend Sept. 3 at 8:30 a.m.

Teachers began job action back in April, followed by rotating strikes. In June, school ended abruptly when teachers moved to a full strike with just under two weeks left. The teachers union and the province have been unable to come to an agreement since and while mediator vince Ready had said earlier in the summer the two parties were too far apart for mediation, he has since met with each separately.

The provincial government announced in July that if the strike continued into the school year a subsidy of $40 per day for children under 13 would be provided to parents, with registration opening in September. The subsidy would be funded from the $12 million in daily savings from teachers’ salaries.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jennifer Stahn at jstahn@infonews.ca or call 250-819-3723. To contact an editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

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