When classes resume after the upcoming spring break, the rules of the game will have changed.
In fact, there won’t be any games – or band practices, graduation-planning meetings or overnight trips – because Kamloops teachers will not be doing any volunteer extra-curricular activities.
Kamloops-Thompson Teachers’ Association president Jason Karpuk said the decision came from the membership, was overwhelming supported at a general meeting, re-affirmed at a later meeting and comes into effect after the high-school basketball season ends this week.
“We’ll be working to the letter of the contract,” Karpuk said.
“Teachers are tired of being disrespected by government and, while it’s certainly not all parents, by some of the public. This is about showing what teachers do.”
School District 73 superintendent Terry Sullivan said he had heard some teachers were already withdrawing from volunteer activities at schools and, during the past weekend, he received several emails from students worried about the withdrawal.
Sullivan said it’s his intent to ensure as many extra-curricular activities as possible continue, “but the extent depends on getting community and parent support.”
Because the withdrawal is for voluntary activities, the restrictions on job action included in Bill 22, the legislation now being debated by the provincial government, don’t have any impact, Sullivan said.
One concern is upcoming graduations, but Sullivan noted much of the planning is done by parents.
He said the school district has a good relationship with community coaches and he’s hoping they’ll step into the void, but other people will be needed for the non-athletic activities that take place outside of school instructional hours.
Karpuk said teachers will be available during those teaching hours to provide consultation on graduations but, at this point, the plan is for teachers to not attend events later this school year.
Karpuk acknowledged the withdrawal – which has spread to about five other school districts – will have an impact on students, but said “the kids will suffer under Bill 22.”
The action is on the agenda to be discussed by the B.C. Teachers’ Federation at its upcoming annual general meeting, which is scheduled to run from March 17 to March 20.
Among contentious aspects of the legislation is a proposal to pay teachers if they agree to larger class sizes – up to $2,500 per year for each student over 30 in grades 4 to 7 and $312 per student per year over the 30 limit in secondary schools.
– Kamloops This Week