Catholic board opposes deal with teachers
WALLACEBURG – The St. Clair Catholic District School Board is giving notice to the premier and education minister that it feels its powers have been usurped by the deal reached with English Catholic teachers union.
Trustees passed a resolution during its Nov. 27 board meeting in Wallaceburg stating, in part, “the rights and power of the democratically elected school board trustees were usurped by the Minister of Education on July 5, 2012 with the signing of the memorandum of understanding with the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association.”
The resolution adds the action by the minister of education has negatively impacted the SCCDSB.
Trustee Linda Ward told the QMI Agency “This is the first time the Ministry of Education has ever signed a contract with the teachers.
“We're the employers of the teachers, not the Ministry of Education,” added Ward, who put forth the resolution with fellow trustee John Van Heck.
The Ontario Catholic School Trustees' Association was “on board” at the bargaining table, then “at the last hour we were usurped in that a deal was struck before we met the next day,” Van Heck said.
“Are we truly a part of this and in charge of the contract with our teachers or is it the Ministry of Education?” he added.
Ward, who is also a regional director for the OCSTA, said this action on the part of the education minister “sets a bad precedent for school board negotiations in Ontario.”
She said what's contained in the memorandum of understanding takes away the school board's ability for hiring, setting direction for testing and professional development. Under the deal, English Catholic teachers will take three unpaid days off on three of the six professional development days the local Catholic board anticipated having to upgrade teachers' skills.
Ward said she isn't “bashing” what she described as wonderful teachers with board.
However, she said in looking to the future when the board wants to hire teachers, it may be constricted by seniority rules.
“We have new teachers coming out of university that have all kinds of different special education courses, (and have learned) the new ways of teaching children...that we would love to put into some of our schools,” she said.
Ward said there are a lot of students in the board with special needs.
She said some of the teachers on the list for hiring haven't had the opportunity to take any specialized courses.
“But, because of seniority, we may be in the position where all of sudden we're having to hire these teachers over a teacher that has taken extra specialty courses that's going to enrich that classroom,” Ward said.
Similar resolutions are being passed by other Catholic school boards across the province.