Monday Memo – March 6, 2017

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

Agreement regarding full restoration of stripped collective agreement language
On March 3, 2017 the BCTF concluded an Agreement-in-Committee with the government regarding the full implementation of all the collective agreement language that was stripped by the BC Liberals in 2002, and restored by the Supreme Court of Canada last November. The BCTF Executive Committee voted unanimously to recommend that members vote in favour of ratifying the agreement.

As BCTF President Glen Hansman has said, “The tentative agreement, if ratified, will allow the next school year to start with thousands more teachers, smaller class sizes, better class composition, and specialist-teacher ratios. BC teachers have been fighting for 15 years to defend our rights and to restore our working conditions. If ratified, this agreement will mean the beginning of a new chapter in public education in BC, one in which teachers will once again have the time to give students the individual care and attention they need and deserve. School libraries and counselling offices will be re-opened, shop and lab classes will have safety standards restored, and all classrooms will be properly supported.”
This tentative agreement is still subject to a province-wide vote of BCTF members, as well as the BC Public School Employers’ Association’s process. BCTF members will vote March 8–10, 2017. Please see below for details about the agreement, and about the ratification vote in Surrey.

So, what does the agreement mean?
If you have reviewed the Agreement-in-Committee through the BCTF member portal, you will see that it sets out certain numbers regarding class size limits and non-enrolling ratios, but also says that superior local language will prevail. So, what is that language? To assist you in understanding this proposed agreement, please see the attached document, in which we annotate the summary of the provincial agreement and note where the Surrey language is superior. This document identifies our superior language around class sizes, composition, and specialist/non-enrolling caseloads and ratios. It is worth noting that our language is 15 years old and that there may be ratios or limits that are superior in practice (eg.. a grade 3/4 split in the restored language is 25 students but the School Act limit is 24). When we meet with the District this week, we will be advocating that no class sizes or ratios should get worse through restoration. Members may still have many questions, as do we. Tomorrow we are meeting with the BCTF to discuss some of Surrey’s unique challenges and how we contemplate addressing them. Please stay-tuned for further information prior to our ratification vote.

Ratification vote this week on restored language!
We will be holding our ratification vote on the Agreement-in-Committee on Wednesday and Thursday this week. There are several reasons why the BCTF EC decided that the provincial vote must happen this week including the various spring breaks around the province and the fast approach of the spring staffing process. For spring staffing to be able to proceed based on the restored language, we need this agreement to be ratified. Stay tuned, we will be sending out a communication ASAP Tuesday confirming the times for the Regular Polls.

Eaglequest Golf Centre, (Wednesday March 8th, 7:30-8:30a.m. and 11:30a.m.-12:30p.m.)
**Please note: We are NOT doing voting at the STA office.

Wednesday, March 8th after school (time -TBA)

Clayton Heights Secondary
Earl Marriott Secondary
Princess Margaret Secondary

Thursday, March 9th after school (time -TBA)
Fraser Heights Secondary
L.A. Matheson Secondary
Elgin Park Secondary

At each secondary site, there will be an information session at which an STA table officer will be available to explain the Agreement-in-Committee and answer questions about it. If you just wish to vote, without attending the information session, you are welcome to do that as well. Teachers must vote in person at one of the sites, and not by proxy during the time listed.

Volunteers needed to count the ratification vote!
We will need volunteers for our vote count in the early evening of Thursday, March 9, at the STA office, after the polls have closed. Dinner will be provided. Please RSVP to Matt Westphal, 2nd VP, at

Information needed
If you have secondary training or experience and were hired to teach elementary, or if your training or experience are at the secondary level and you were hired to teach secondary please, contact Joanna Cerazy, Grievance Officer, at

STA pro-education Digital Billboard Election Ads went live today!
We are proud to point out to STA members that we have brand new billboard ads encouraging voters to keep education funding in mind as they go to the polls. We know interest in education issues during this election is intense, and although there have been announcements of significant money for Surrey schools, it is important to emphasize that Surrey kids and schools need more stable funding! As you cross a bridge into Surrey you may see our message to the public over the next few weeks. See attached to view our two ads!

TTOC Failures to fill
The STA has been working with the district to try to address the failures to fill. In the meantime, we are recommending the staff committee at your school create a list of teachers and administrators to rotate through classes when there is a failure to fill. Attached is a form that may help with identifying when the same teachers are being pulled to cover for colleagues. The form should be faxed or sent to Sue Heuman at

Student Teachers
It has been brought to the attention of the STA that student teachers are, in some schools, being pulled from their assigned practicum class to cover as a TTOC in another class. This is a liability issue as student teachers require a sponsor teacher in close proximity who is responsible for the students. This is also not fair to the student teacher as they are losing time to hone their skills and learn from their practicum speciality. TTOCs who are dispatched to cover sponsor teachers should not be redirected to cover another teacher’s class. Please contact the STA if either of these situations occur at your school.

Immigration status doesn’t matter now; New Westminster school district is first in B.C. to officially adopt a sanctuary schools policy
Children, no matter their immigration status, should never be denied an education.

That was a sentiment New Westminster trustees enshrined in policy by unanimously approving the province’s first-ever sanctuary schools policy this week. “It should be natural,” trustee Casey Cook said of the policy. “The fact that we even had to go through this is, to me, quite surprising.”

The New Westminster Sanctuary Schools Policy, approved at a public meeting Tuesday, officially recognizes that students with precarious immigration status or no immigration status at all can access an education in the school district. Its intent is to create a welcoming and safe place for all students, no matter their family’s situation. Please see the CBC’s article for more info.

Joke of The Week
Q: What do you call cheese that’s not yours?
A: Nacho cheese.

This week’s joke was submitted by Paul Manhas. 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:
March 7 – Executive Committee meeting
March 8 – BCTF AGM Delegates training at Eaglequest Golf Centre, 7778-152 Street, Surrey
March 8 – Advance Poll – EagleQuest Golf Centre 7:30-8:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
March 8 – Ratification Vote at: Clayton Heights Sec., Earl Marriott Sec., Princess Margaret Sec.
March 9 – Ratification Vote at: Fraser Heights Sec., L.A. Matheson Sec., Elgin Park Sec.

If you have any questions or need further clarification regarding this Monday Memo please email directly to the following STA Table Officers: Gioia Breda, Laura Barker, Matt Westphal, Anne McNamee, Sue Heuman, Kristine Olsen and Joanna Cerazy.

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

Go Back To -> Monday Memos