Monday Memo – February 10, 2017

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


Some Challenges with Implementation of $50 Million for contract restoration
Since early January we have been working jointly with the District to put more teachers into schools to increase service to our students with special needs and/or to help alleviate the class size and composition challenges faced by teachers. Overall the two parties have been working well together on this task.

One challenge that has arisen (particularly for elementary schools) has been some confusion regarding the role of the new teacher coming to your school. In many cases, elementary schools were given some additional district-based LST time. However, in some cases, school requests had been made for the new teacher to work alongside classroom teachers with challenging classroom compositions. The committee recognized that LST, while perhaps an imperfect match for this type of in-class support, was the best ‘fit’ for what was requested. Since we have no job description for ‘floater’ teacher or team teacher, granting LST time enabled us to get postings out in a timely way.

Attached is the joint communication sent out January 31st that was meant to help teachers and administrators conceptualize the flexibility envisioned by the committee that could include some in-class support even though that is not necessarily contemplated by the current LST models. Unfortunately, it’s our understanding that a contradictory message may have been conveyed at a recent district-wide LST meeting. This was in error (with not all groups in our large district having complete understanding of this new process as it has evolved). We sincerely apologize for any tension or conflict this may have caused at your school.

These new positions are temporary, just for the remainder of the school year, and are meant to provide some relief to students and teachers who are struggling with limited time and resources. However your school chooses to use the additional time granted, we know it may be an imperfect fit because our language has not yet been fully restored, and schools are now tasked with making challenging choices about allocating limited resources. We hope that these school-based discussions can proceed with collaboration of all parties. If you have any questions about how to manage the changes at your school please call the STA office. For an overview of the local and provincial issues regarding the restoration process, attend our STA meeting on Feb 15th at Eaglequest.

Calling all Punjabi-speaking teachers! This may be your 15 seconds of fame!
The STA’s PA/PR committee is working on getting our education message out there in time to make a difference in the upcoming election. We want Surrey voters to think about education when they cast their ballot on May 9th. If you speak Punjabi and would like to help your community think about education at the polls, please consider “auditioning” for a Punjabi radio ad we are creating with NOW Communications. We need male and female teachers for the radio ad which will run on several Punjabi radio stations heard in Surrey and around the Lower Mainland. If this interests you, and you are available to be released (i.e. paid your regular salary) for the day to attend the recording session on Thursday Feb 16, please take a voice memo on your phone of you speaking in Punjabi for 20-30 seconds and email it to Laura Barker at Please speak about what you believe in as a teacher or why you love teaching. (Don’t worry, we will have a script prepared for you in advance of the recording; we just need to hear your speaking voice, intonation, etc). Send your recording by noon on Monday February 13th.

LST Teachers: Work Beyond the Regular Work Year
We are gathering information about LST teachers being asked to perform work beyond the regular school year. If you are an LST Teacher who has been asked to come to work prior to the start of school, please contact Joanna Cerazy, Grievance Officer,at

Focus day Feb 17: North Surrey Secondary
Over 500 teachers have registered for sessions this coming Friday but there is still some room in some sessions. We have an excellent keynote speaker, Dr. Catherine McGregor, talking about the intersectional nature of identity and learning. Lunch (and morning arrival coffee and snacks, come early!) are included. Register at Registration will close on Wednesday, February 15th, but there may still be space for some walk-ins in our smaller workshops.

Social Event for New Teachers: March 2nd
All new teachers (teachers in their first 5 years of contract or new to role) are invited to a New Teacher Social, sponsored by the STA/SD36 Mentorship Advisory Team. Please see registration information attached.

Parents Advocating for Public Education: Invitation to Event February 21st from 6:30 to 8:30 pm
Parent support on social media for public education has increased substantially over the past few years. A parent-sponsored group called Surrey Students Now has held a number of events to help parents get involved and informed. On February 21 this group will hold an event to help parents understand our restored language and what it could mean for their child. STA president Gioia Breda has been invited to speak there, and we encourage members to attend. It’s certainly advantageous to us to be able to meet with parents to be able to talk about our restored language and learning conditions for students. To that end, the STA Executive passed the following motion:That we sponsor the Surrey Students Now Advocating for Education 101 event scheduled for February 21, 2017. See attached poster for more details.

BCTF Pro-D News and Educational Change Bulletin
The latest issues are attached. They include some information about some interesting professional development events taking place at UBC in the summer. If you haven’t yet applied for consolidated funds, you may want to use them to attend a UBC summer institute! The Educational Change Bulletin includes detailed information about Assessments and Reporting.

Snow Day Aftermath
Due to hazardous weather conditions, the district closed schools to students and employees for three days this week. The STA office was flooded with questions about pay and leaves. As this was an unprecedented situation, we contacted the District to alert them to potential concerns and advocated for ways in which we hoped they would resolve them. Included below is the District’s decision on how to handle these situations as shared with principals on Friday morning:

All employees who were scheduled to work will be paid based on the hours that they were scheduled to work on each of the closures days (Monday, Tuesday and Thursday specifically). This includes TTOCs and casual spare board support staff.

Employees who called in to report that they were ill and consequently unable to report to work on any of the closure days will continue to be recorded on a sick leave status and will be paid accordingly.

Employees who called in the day before or morning of a closure day requesting a leave without pay (i.e. – personal discretionary leave) because they were unable to commute to work due to the weather/road conditions, will instead be placed onto a leave of absence with pay for the day.

While we are pleased that all employees, including TTOCs who were scheduled to work, will get paid, and that teachers who accessed unpaid leaves to deal with their inability to get to work safely will not lose pay, we are consulting with the BCTF over the issue of teachers who were sick and had sick days deducted on days the District was closed. If you have a pay/leave issue that is not captured in the information provided by the District, please contact Gioia Breda at

Wednesday February 15th: Special General Meeting with STARA to follow
All members are welcome to join us at Eaglequest at 4 pm. Items on the agenda include gearing up for the provincial election, getting updated on where we are in the implementation process both locally and provincially, and learning about decisions that were made at the BCTF Winter Rep Assembly. See attached agenda. If you require childcare please contact Donna Stewart at by 12:00 pm on Tuesday, February 14th.

Convention – May 5th, 2017
Colleagues, please continue to submit your workshop ideas for STA Convention this year. We need more sessions to offer, and teachers present excellent workshops that are so appreciated by colleagues. If you or a colleague want to present together, or if you know about a workshop you have attended recently, please let us know their contact info, and we can invite them to present in Surrey as well! Our website at is still open for submissions! Remember that you get release time to prepare for the workshop!

Provincial Election May 9th
We are less than three months away from our provincial election! The STA PA/PR committee is working on our education-issues public advertising campaign, which will be rolled out in the next few weeks, and our outreach to members to encourage them to consider education issues and to plan to vote in the early polls. We want to find a person in each school to be our “election contact” this year. If you are willing to be this person, please contact the STA and let us know. Give your name, contact info and school name to Donna Stewart at . Thanks in advance!

Day of Pink: Wednesday, February 22
February 22 is the Pink Shirt Day. The BCTF LGBTQ Action Group’s newly revised Day of Pink posters will be arriving in your schools soon. These include lesson plans that help teachers refocus this day away from a generic anti-bullying event, and towards one in which we honour and celebrate LGBTQ rights. Find additional resources on the BCTF Committee for Action on Social Justice’s “Day of Pink” web page

Anti-poverty Month!
The STA has an anti-poverty committee which hosts various events for teachers. This month we want to draw your attention to poverty in BC, which is at a shockingly high level.

Despite having one of the highest poverty rates in Canada, BC is now the only province left with no poverty reduction plan! Why does BC need a plan?

1. Despite being one of the wealthiest provinces in the country, 13.2% of the population, that’s 595,000 British Columbians, live in poverty using the Market Basket Measure.
2. BC’s child poverty rate is 1 in 5 (more in First Call’s Child Poverty Report Card)
3. Most poor people are working, and about a third of BC’s poor children live in families where at least one parent has a full-time job
4. In March 2016, over 100,000 people in BC used food banks, and almost a third of them were children.
5. Poverty reduction is a sound investment for our province.

BC is the only province that has not made a commitment to creating a poverty reduction strategy, despite a vocal nongovernmental sector that has long been calling for change. British Columbia has high income inequality, low minimum wages and social assistance supports, and long waitlists for childcare and health services. The housing market is becoming increasingly more expensive and unattainable for people living in poverty. Something needs to be done. See more at the BC Poverty Reduction coalition website –

Black History Month
February is also Black History Month. This is an important time for teachers to focus on the contributions of AfroCanadians and raise awareness of the historical injustices they have faced. Visit the BCTF Antiracism Action Group’s Black History Month web page for information and resources –

Resources available
The BCTF Committee for Action on Social Justice produces a mini online newsletter every month or so, with back issues available (full of links to opportunities, materials, actions and lesson plans) at this website –

Borrow DVDs to show to your class – delivered to your school for free!
Did you know the STA’s International Solidarity Committee has a mini library of DVDs on social justice themes for use by all Surrey teachers? Take a look at the selections at , and email Julia MacRae at with your requests. She will pop them in the courier for you. After a couple of weeks you can return them to her the same way. Easy!

Joke of The Week
Q: What is a math teacher’s favourite sum?
A: Summer!

This week’s joke was submitted by Sarah Nakashima. 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 . 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:
February 13 – Family Day
February 15 – Special General/STARA meeting
February 17 – Focus Day
February 22 – AGM delegate training
February 24-25 – BCTF New Teachers’ Conference

Saturday, February 18th, 2017. Filed in Category: Monday Memos

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