Monday Memo – April 10, 2017

MEMO TO: Staff Reps
COPIES TO: STA Executive Committee
FROM: Gioia Breda, President
Date: April 10, 2017

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Classroom space/Implementation of the Restored Language
The BCTF/BCPSEA agreement on the implementation of the restored language restoration requires the district to make every effort to find the required additional classroom spaces. The district is currently conducting a facilities audit to determine how spaces at each school are being used. We have heard from many elementary non-enrolling teachers (Music, LST and French) with concerns that they may lose their teaching spaces next year. Some teachers have reported that their principals have told them that they will lose their teaching spaces to make room for an additional division, and some have heard that there will be an additional division put into the staff room. Spaces that are being used for instruction by non-enrolling teachers and staff rooms are important for educational programs and the healthy function of a school. It is premature and inappropriate for principals to tell teachers that they will not have a teaching space next year, because it is our view that the district has not yet made every effort to find other additional classroom spaces, e.g. portables.

Many school staffs are engaging in discussions at their schools about alternative learning spaces. The District is required to make all best efforts to comply with the restored language, conducting an audit of what possible spaces may exist. That is one of the ways to show best efforts have been made. Examining catchment boundaries, and finding more portables are also some of the factors involved.

It is very important that all teachers continue to bring forward the importance of maintaining teaching spaces for non-enrolling teachers, while also continuing to emphasize the necessity of fully implementing the restored language. While these two positions may appear to be contradictory, the final decision about use of classroom space will not rest with the teachers at individual schools, and it is important that throughout this process, all teachers feel valued by their colleagues. Therefore, teachers are not ‘signing off’ on alternative teaching spaces and should not be asked to do so. There is no doubt that music teachers in particular across the district are facing significant concern about their programs next year. Teachers should ensure that pressure lands where it should: on the district and the ministry to provide additional classroom spaces.

Finally, we were so concerned by what we were hearing about how the District’s ‘space audit’ was being conducted and perceived that we contacted the Superintendent immediately to voice our concerns and to clarify their position and ours. After hearing the concerns we’ve outlined above, Superintendent Jordan Tinney confirmed the following:
we (the District) are still in the pre-planning and exploratory stage of space analysis and school organizations;
there have not been final decisions where music teachers would be on a cart or other space issues that would create significant challenges to teachers or programming; and while we are planning, we certainly are looking at all spaces appropriate for instruction but we also want to engage with the union on how specific critical issues will play out in individual schools. We want to problem solve together.

If the ‘space audit’ did not come across as “exploratory” and you had a more “prescriptive” experience or if you have other concerns regarding restoration of our language, please contact Gioia at pres@surreyteachers.org. The language is 15 years old; implementing it is going to present challenges. We will do our best to ensure the least amount of impact but we do need to ensure that the language is protected and enforced so that we don’t lose it again. Some of the challenges can be readily predicted by us at the STA and others less so. To ensure your concerns are addressed, please contact us.

Convention registration opens today
We have had over 1000 teacher register for the Convention today, despite a website crash due to volume at 2:45. The website has now been fixed and registration should go smoothly from here on in. Please register as soon as possible, as we will start cancelling workshops with low numbers starting April 28th. We sometimes open second sessions of very popular workshops that fill in the first days of registration. Also there is lots of choice! Why not attend a workshop about something you have never thought about before? The STA Convention is the perfect PD day to explore new ideas. Register at www.staconvention.ca

Call for Nominations: STA Annual General Meeting – May 17th
The STA Annual General Meeting will be held on Wednesday, May 17th at the Bombay Banquet Hall from 4:00 to 6:00 pm. All members are encouraged to attend. We will be holding elections for Executive Committee positions, including table officer positions as well as the Resolutions Committee. Please see the attached “Call for Nominations”pdf. for more information. We will also be adopting the STA budget for 2017-18, and setting the STA fee. If you are interested in putting your name forward for a position, please email a short statement before Friday, April 21st to sta@surreyteachers.org.

Staff Rep Training: Starting This Week!
Our registration numbers for the workshops on April 12, 13, and 26 are low, and there is a possibility that we will need to cancel sessions if we not not have more people register for those dates. If you would like to come on those days, please register now, following instructions on the attached flyer. Also, please remember that even if a staff rep does not plan on attending one of your sessions, another teacher from that school can attend in their place. So staff reps who do not plan on attending should let their colleagues know of this opportunity, and let them know to contact dstewart@surreyteachers.org to coordinate registration. Two final reminders: you must register in order to attend, and please refrain from wearing scented products at the STA.

Register to vote!
Tuesday, April 11th, is the last day to register online to vote in the May 9 provincial election. After that point, you can still register when you vote, but it takes a bit longer. The address for online registration is at http://elections.bc.ca/register-to-vote/

Would you like to help get rid of Peter Fassbender?
A message from Matt Westphal, STA 2nd VP.
Other than Jinny Sims (Surrey-Panorama), the STA has not yet formally endorsed candidates in any other Surrey ridings for the provincial election; decisions regarding endorsations of other candidates will be made by the STARA meeting on April 19. However, although I live in Vancouver, I have been been volunteering for Jagrup Brar, the NDP candidate in Surrey-Fleetwood, and encourage other teachers to consider doing so. I am volunteering for Jagrup for several reasons:

  • The current MLA is Peter Fassbender, whose tenure as Minister of Education during the 2014 strike showed him to be a relentless adversary of teachers.
  • Fassbender won this seat by only a 200-vote margin in 2013.
  • Jagrup was an excellent MLA in this riding from 2004 to 2013. As MLA, he took the Welfare Challenge in 2012, moving into an SRO hotel in the Downtown Eastside and living on the single person’s monthly welfare amount of $610. Five years later, this amount has not increased, and the BC Liberal government still refuses to create a poverty reduction plan.
  • I canvassed twice this past weekend, and will be doing so again on Wednesday, April 12, and at least once a week until the election. If you would like to join me, please contact me at 2-vp@surreyteachers.org. If you are interested in volunteering in another capacity, I can connect you with people in the office.

    Teachers running for election
    A number of public school teachers running for election in the Lower Mainland:

  • Niovi Patsicakis, retired Surrey teacher, is running for the NDP in Surrey-White Rock. In her teaching career Niovi was very involved in special education, especially around gifted learners. It would be great to have her voice in the Legislature! She is holding a campaign event in White Rock this Thursday, April 13, 2017, from 3:00-6:00 (see poster attached).
  • Gail Chaddock-Costello (former Langley Teachers’ Association President and current 1st VP) is running in Langley
  • Bruce Reid (Richmond teacher and Delta School Trustee) is running in Delta South
  • More sharables -BCTF ‘Time for a Change’ booklets
    This week staff reps received hard copies of this year’s version of “The numbers tell the story.” They’ve been asked to leave them in a location where teachers who want hard copies can access them. Gioia has had great success in keeping a hard copy with her to use for shameless conversations around the underfunding of education in this province wherever she goes! We’ve attached the pdf and included the link below to facilitate online sharing.
    http://www.bctf.ca/uploadedFiles/Public/Issues/EdFinance/ItsTimeForChange.pdf

    Opportunities for Members
    The BCTF is looking for teachers who are interested in becoming facilitators for the many workshops that make up the BCTF SURT and Professional and Social Issues (PSI) workshop programs. These workshops cover a wide variety of topics and we are looking for teachers who are passionate about sharing this information and knowledge with teachers throughout the province. Once accepted for one of the programs, you will be contacted with details of the workshops that you will be trained for during our Facilitator’s Institute Training (FIT) in August. The information on the posting and how to apply can be found on the BCTF website at bctf.ca/opportunities/BCTFCommittees.aspx.
    This page has the links to the posting details (as well as for other volunteer opportunities on BCTF committees), and the workshop facilitator application form. Please note that the deadline is April 28. Late applications cannot be accepted as we have a tight timeline for the approval process.

    Seniority versus experience
    The STA receive a number of questions from members regarding seniority and experience, not realizing that the two, while related, are not the same.
    Seniority is the date that your receive your contract. This date can be used when applying for positions in the rounds or in the case of a tie between two members, the member with the most seniority should be awarded the position.
    Experience is money. Each day that you work is experience.

    For teachers on contract once you have worked 10 full months your salary will increase to the next year on the salary grid. This is done September 1 or January 1. For TTOCs, once you work 170 full days, your salary will increase on the 1st of the month following.

    For teachers who were TTOCs and now have a contract, twice a year you can request payroll calculate your TTOC days, convert them to months and add to your contract months. This is done by completing a request by November 15 for January 1 or completing the request by May 15 for September 1.

    If you have a part time contract and work as a TTOC, your salary will only increase September 1 or January 1 and take advantage of having payroll convert any TTOC days to full months. Any questions please contact grieve@surreyteachers.org

    Variances Revisited
    The STA has been advised by the Board that an additional 6 secondary schools will be going on extended day schedules for 2017-2018. This will affect those teachers who have applied for and been approved for a variance for the next school year, because the Variance Letter of Agreement specifically refers to teachers in schools operating under Article D.22.2.b, Instructional Week. Extended day schools are not able to access variances under this Letter of Agreement. When the STA receives confirmation of the schools that will be implementing the extended day schedule, the STA President will be in contact with those teachers who may be affected by the conversion to an extended day.

    Labour Affairs Movie Night
    Thursday, April 20th from 3:30 pm to 6:30 pm (or earlier)
    at Queen Elizabeth Secondary in Portable Building: Room 407 adjacent to parking lot
    Come and join the Labour Affairs committee in a pizza and film night for the showing of Burn – A Marlon Brando film. Refreshments & snacks will be provided for free to STA members. To register please go to https://lac-film-night-april-20-2017.eventbrite.ca. To watch the film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nd_WPdc2Mgg

    Joke of The Week
    Q: What do you call a fish with no eyes?
    A: “FSH”

    This week’s joke was submitted by Dan Olsen. If you would like to participate in joke of the week, please submit a short, clean, (but not necessarily education-related) joke to Gioia Breda at pres@surreyteachers.org . If your joke is drawn for publication, your name will then be entered into a draw for a gift card at the end of the month. *Thanks for the jokes! Please keep them coming!

    Calendar of Events:
    Reminder to all teachers – All STA meetings are open to members who are interested in attending. If you are thinking of getting involved, why not come and check out what is going on in our committees?

    April 11 to 13 – Staff Rep training
    April 11 – Political Action & Public Relations (PA/PR) Committee meeting
    April 11 – Ad Hoc LGBTQ Committee meeting
    April 12 – Anti-poverty Committee meeting
    April 18 – Executive Committee meeting
    April 19 – STARA meeting
    April 20 – Finance Committee meeting
    April 20 – Labour Affairs Committee meeting
    April 24 to 26 – Staff Rep training
    April 25 – Executive Committee meeting
    April 27 – Aboriginal Education Committee meeting
    April 28 to 29 – BCTF Zone meeting
    April 28 – National Day of Mourning


    Tuesday, April 11th, 2017. Filed in Category: Monday Memos

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