Monday Memo – February 6, 2017

MEMO TO: Staff Reps
COPIES TO: STA Executive Committee
FROM: Gioia Breda, President
Date: February 6, 2017


All things SNOW!
We were very pleased that the District closed schools today for both students and staff. Despite crews working throughout the weekend to clear parking lots and sidewalks, we know some sites were never reached and others were recovered as the snow continued to fall. The Metro districts make their decisions about school closures around 6:00am. This morning it was about 6:30am. My understanding from speaking with Jordan Tinney this morning is that CKNW and News1130 updates immediately when they get the call from a school district. Wake up early and staytuned for what plays out tomorrow. The district also suggests following Jordan Tinney (@jordantinney) on twitter for updates. Please remember if interacting with him, that he is your employer. Included is also the STA snow-day link for more general info:

Lots of questions have arisen in the aftermath of the ‘snow day’ especially around different leaves that people accessed today. Firstly, the District has been clear, it’s a snow day – all sites and facilities are closed as per their media release. Policy (5207.1) says all employees are “expected to report for work…unless otherwise instructed.” The District made the call to close sites, so staff need not attend work hence you have been “otherwise instructed.” If you were to be working and paid today, you will be paid.

As you can appreciate how unusual it is for the District to close, there are few definitive answers at this point. TTOCs who were scheduled to work today and did not book themselves this morning as unavailable, they will be paid for the day or ½ day they were scheduled to work. Teachers who took a discretionary day today or were sick and called it in, please know we’ve raised concerns with the district and we will send out a communication via staff reps once we have more concrete information to share. If you have a concern not captured above, please email Gioia at for help.

Implementation of first $50 Million for contract restoration
By now your schools have received news of what staffing will be underway, and teachers will be coming into schools shortly. This is great news. We also know this may mean some disruption and uncertainty, as shuffling of schedules and workload takes place. Let’s keep in mind the fact that we are seeing these results from our long road to victory at the Supreme Court. 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 15 at Eaglequest.

Secondary semester turn-around survey
We have prepared a survey for secondary teachers on the time needed at semester turn around time. We know many teachers felt stressed by time constraints, and we want to know more. Here is the link: Please fill it out in the next week.

Prep Time for Teachers On Leave for Part of the Year
We are preparing a grievance relating to how prep time is handled for members who were on leave for part of the year. For example, suppose a person is on a pregnancy/parental leave for one semester. How much prep did they receive in their other semester? If it was three blocks with one block of prep, did they get the entire block with no effect on their pay, or did the school want them to work half the time in that prep block in order to be paid 100% What if they taught all four blocks in the semester back? Did they receive extra money? We are trying to determine what the District’s practice has been over the past 5-7 years. This issue could come up for pregnancy and parental leaves, medical leaves, or other leaves. If you have been on such a leave for a portion of a school year, please forward your information to Matt Westphal, 2nd Vice-President, at

Wednesday February 15th: Special General Meeting with STARA to follow
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, 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 February 10th.

INVITATION: Official Unveiling of the STA’s Labour History Plaque, February 15
All Surrey teachers are warmly invited to join the STA Executive, STA members, and STA Ad Hoc Plaque Committee at Eaglequest after the STARA meeting at 6:00 pm to meet some of the STA and BCTF past presidents and teachers who were responsible for this watershed moment in STA and BCTF Labour History. Please RSVP to by February 10, 2017. See attached for more information.

Focus day February 17
We already have over 400 teachers registered for our fabulous focus day, and some of the sessions are full. All of the workshops are taking place at North Surrey Secondary. Please register via as soon as possible. We have an amazing keynote starting promptly at 8:30 am, with coffee and snacks (come early!) and lunch included. This is a great option for you for your Pro D, if you didn’t attend summer PD in 2016. See you there!

STA reaches out to Muslim community in Surrey
Teachers were horrified to hear of the murder of six men at the mosque in Quebec city last weekend. The following motion was passed by our Executive Committee:
That the President of the STA express our heartfelt condolences to the Muslim community of Surrey in response to the recent Islamophobic act that lead to the death of 6 men in a Quebec mosque.

STA president Gioia Breda brought flowers to the local mosque on 72nd Avenue to express our sincere condolences and solidarity with the Muslim community here in Surrey. She has also written to all the Imams in Surrey expressing our sadness and shock, and letting them know what resources are available to our teachers to teach tolerance and respect.
As teachers we teach about inclusiveness, the beauty in diversity and the ways in which we as Canadians share many things in common. Knowing that students will come to us this week with many complicated feelings about what took place, we encourage teachers to refer those students to the appropriate resources at your school, and to help combat Islamophobia whenever it may appear. See the link for lesson plan suggestions.

Planning for the Provincial Election May 9th
Your Political Action/ Public Relations (PA/PR) committee at the STA is planning our education issues-based campaign with advertising for the public as well as direct appeals to teachers living in Surrey to get active and to vote. There are nine ridings in Surrey where we want to see pro-public education candidates elected to the legislature. We are hoping to identify a teacher in each school who will be our “election contact” this spring. This may be the staff rep or someone else. This person would help us by encouraging all staff members to vote, and helping distribute election related notices etc. Please contact the STA if you are willing to be this person.

A way to get more involved is to join the STA’s PA/PR committee. There are a number of specific roles available including teacher outreach, event organization, liaising with candidates and riding associations, and much more. This is a short-term commitment with far-reaching consequences. It is an excellent opportunity to involve yourself, learn about the election process, and have your voice heard. If teachers don’t get involved to promote the importance of public education, who will? Contact the STA office to put your name forward for the committee.

Inviting Presentation Proposals for STA Convention 2017
Please do not hesitate to submit an idea for a workshop to us for the upcoming STA Convention on May 5th. We need teachers to step up. For example, wouldn’t you love to have a group of 15 people, who teach the exact same thing as you, together in a room to discuss your ideas about implementation of the new curriculum? It seems like no-one ever has time for that! Well, you could easily offer to host a sharing session on your particular teaching area, and colleagues can join you and share their ideas! You don’t have to do much more than that, and think of the payoff! – click on “presentation proposals” and fill in the fields.

Teaching in the Trump era: Planning a conference with our neighbours to the south!
A group of Surrey teachers is starting to plan a bi-national Social Justice conference for classroom teachers from BC, Washington, and Oregon. This will take place in Surrey on a Saturday in late Feb 2018, and we need an organizing committee. If you are interested to help plan a totally new and exciting event, please contact Julia MacRae at to sign up!

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!


Black History Month
Each February offers an invitation to teachers to help celebrate and honor the contribution of Black Canadians throughout our history. Included is the link to the BCTF’s resource list:

Day of Pink coming up: Feb 22, 2017
This is an important day to show our support of LGBTQ issues in our schools and classrooms. Raising awareness, making LGBTQ students feel safe, heard, included and visible is essential. See the link at to know about all the resources available to teachers.

Joke of the Week
Q: Why do the French only have one egg for breakfast?
A: Because one egg is un oeuf.

This week’s joke was submitted by Courtney Bowman. 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! *We NEED more jokes! Please keep them coming!

Calendar of Events:
February 7 – Executive Committee meeting
February 10 – AGM Rookie delegate training
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

Monday, February 6th, 2017. Filed in Category: Monday Memos

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