Bad Optics in School District #43

Along with their colleagues, Coquitlam teachers went on strike for five weeks to make a stand for public education. It cost them each $8000 or so.

School administrators, muzzled for the duration of the strike by district staff, continued to collect their pay. School trustees, superintendents, district staff, and CUPE all collected their pay. Education Ministers got paid as did Premiers. Heck, even parents are getting $40 per day per strike day, per child.

Everyone got paid- except teachers, and the first day they go back to work, Coquitlam stiffs them a day’s pay.

What? Coquitlam? Arguably the most progressive school district in B.C.? You sure you don’t mean Abbottsford, or Chilliwack… or Langley?

No I don’t (although Abbotsford also didn’t pay their teachers – surprise)

Yes, Coquitlam school district didn’t pay its teachers for Friday, September 19th– at least that’s the way it looks to teachers.

The first day after the strike, was the “prep” Friday. Teachers would come into school, prepare classrooms, get class lists, make course changes, and generally wind up June’s untidy finish and get ready for a Monday start. Fair enough says everyone.

But with a bad taste still in their mouths from a long, acrimonious strike, most teachers were in no mood to “volunteer” a day to prepare, even if it meant a messy start on Monday. Many teachers would not have worked Friday had they known they would not get paid.

So they asked if they would be paid for Friday.

“Oh yes, the strike and lockout are over as of Thursday and all teachers will be paid beginning on Friday, Sept. 19th .”

So said the B.C.T.F., B.C.P.S.E.A., and even the government.

But at the end of the month, Coquitlam Teachers, having worked 8 days in September, including Friday September 19th , got paid for 7 days.

Coquitlam teachers were understandably furious, and several of them got a bit insistent at the school board meeting this week, where the unfortunate situation was explained to them.

The explanation goes as follows:

Coquitlam teachers contractually get paid for twenty days each month, because some months have more school days, some fewer. Because it averages out to about 20 days per month, for simplicity’s sake, and by mutual agreement, that’s what teachers get paid each month.

So because teachers were on strike for 13 days in September, they get paid for 7 days rather than the 8 they worked.

The explanation would be laughable if it weren’t so tragic.A school board with a $13 million dollar credibility problem isn’t capable of heading this off at the pass or even fixing it before it hit the fan?

A superintendent of schools can’t phone the union president and have him in to discuss the situation and perhaps agree on how to ameliorate or postpone the pain?

“Bit of a sticky wicket here Charlie, might you drop by the board office for a moment to hash it over?”

It could have been avoided so easily. A postponement, an incremental levy of some kind, or even an up front agreement to take the one day hit in September; anything but to just let it baldly appear on the first pay statement without explanation.

Coquitlam  has a new Secretary Treasurer who has to prove he’s not like the last guy, upon whom has been dumped the blame for the district’s 13 million dollar deficit. I suppose that’s why he didn’t do what any secretary treasurer should do, suggest options to avoid such fiscal catastrophes.

But it’s not just his fault. Did no one realize how awful the optics of this would be; how cruel and disrespectful a statement it made to Coquitlam’s  teachers?

Did anyone consider that this might not be the best way to welcome teachers back to their classrooms?

5 weeks of a grueling strike, convinced most teachers that the provincial government is unrelentingly anti teacher, but most teachers felt secure in the knowledge that the school district was generally supportive and appreciative of their contributions to education in Coquitlam.

So much for that idea.

If you’re not a teacher, it’s hard to comprehend how astoundingly insensitive this move was. It’s an et tu Brute, the unkindest cut of all, and it will take a long time to overcome.

Coquitlam school district has always been rightly proud of the work relationships enjoyed among union groups, teachers, management and trustees over the years.

Coquitlam teachers will be mollified, it will all have been just an unfortunate misunderstanding.Trustees will assure everyone that they love Coquitlam teachers, central office will be diplomatically apologetic – all as comforting as an abusive spouse trying to make amends.

I’m not sure this genie can be put back in the bottle.

But apparently, as Peter Fassbender might cheerfully say,

“The beatings will continue until morale improves.”

About jimnelson806

Educational consultant from Port Moody. "The Stuff Isn't What's Important" " School Wide Discipline Programmes Don't Work" " Vice Principals are crucial towards setting direction"
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33 Responses to Bad Optics in School District #43

  1. Mike McElgunn says:

    From all accounts this appears to be an actual DECISION made at some level at our school board office to not pay teachers for a day of work. This is an unbelievably callous move and is definitely short-sighted in a system that relies so heavily on the good will and volunteer time of its teachers. What were you thinking, SD #43?


  2. Marilyn Rombough says:

    Wow, such callous indifference to an already beleaguered group of professionals. I am an advocate of Public Education (not a teacher) and I really wonder how this is helping anyone.


  3. cindy quach says:

    Thanks JIm….you’ve really captured the stinging sense of disrespect teachers are feeling. I expect those who lea to be attuned to the rawness of emotions right now and to thread delicately as we all try to lick our wounds. This was a brutish stomp…so wounded and bruised.


  4. Momof3 says:

    I would be curious to know what the teachers did in Elementary schools on that Friday. I have 3 kids who went to school for 5 minutes on Monday, then did ‘Family groups’ tues – thurs to give teachers time to assess and assign classes and didn’t have their classes until Friday. I am not saying they did nothing, I am just asking to understand.


    • bryanjack says:

      Hi Momof3,
      With schools ending abruptly last June (after weeks of rotating strikes and a lockout which meant teachers were not allowed on school property or to work at lunch hours or before and after school), most of us returned to schools in various states of disarray: classrooms that had not been packed up, resources that had not been prepared, class rosters which had not yet been determined for the new year, and a host of other organizational tasks which generally take place during the last weeks of June and (for many) the week before Labour Day when teachers and counsellors prepare to meet students on the first day. While insufficient to meet this litany of tasks, the paid day to prepare our classrooms and schools after such a bitter and protracted dispute was seen by many teachers as a rare display of goodwill from our employer. The dust is still settling at our school (even though we are a highschool with more than a thousand students to get placed into classes, pay fees, and resume ‘business as usual’ after missing out on much of June and September’s ritual organization), now ending our second week; but many of us were happy to be offered a paid day to staunch what was certain to be a hectic few weeks of startup. Which makes the deliberate (and unannounced) decision by the Coquitlam School Board to disregard the agreement reached and voted on by teachers in returning to work all the more unsettling.
      Hopefully things will be running smoothly in your neck of the woods soon,


    • Grace says:

      Dear Momof3,
      I am a retired primary grade teacher (a thirty seven year teaching career); let me explain what teachers do prior to the start up of school. First, I packed up and brought in any new material I might need to beautify the room, to use as teaching tools. Along with parents, I sourced the “back to school” sales” for supplies to share with those who needed them. The local library was another stop; I signed out books, topics particular to the start up of a new school year. Community individuals who might be willing to come to our school and provide an “in class/school” experience to our learners, were contacted.

      As teachers, we were in our classrooms “setting up” our classrooms often two weeks prior to the start up. This process involved “decorating” the room, creating learning zones, ensuring all materials and learning “toys” were cleaned and ready for “new” learners. Books for the classroom library were sorted, repaired, purchased and on display in a reading and literacy corner. Reading bins were sorted for home-school use. An easel and paint graced an area by the sink. I prepared materials necessary for the first month of school (These included “start up” letters to parents to explain our programs, our day, our coming timetable, welcoming them and their child to school, making book bags for each student or purchasing them). I was not alone; my colleagues worked alongside. Stock rooms were cleaned and we took stock of supplies we needed.

      The first day of return is traditionally a “head count” numbers day; children attend for a brief amount of time. In my experience, teachers were called to staff meetings, briefed. Teaching assignments were firmed up, other staff were moved to “new” locations, classrooms were rearranged (based on the “head count” or administrative direction). More and more, a kind word and some understanding was happening within the walls of school as a displaced teacher needed reassurance or a bit of help. Teachers met in grade groups to continue planning for the month ahead. Some schools did choose different first week start up or whole school activities such as themes or “ice breakers,” or from necessity- reorganization. These plans are well thought out and take time to prepare.

      Teachers work magic. When a child enters the room on that exciting first day; the classroom is “ready,” the teacher is excited to meet you and your child. It looks “easy” and effortless. Often, visitors and parents do not see the preparation that leads to the opening of school and a welcoming classroom; they do not see the “story” behind the scene.

      Thanks for reading my lengthy reply; it’s personal; I had to explain at length because I cared/care about my profession and the children entrusted to my care. I was not alone; there was an army of teachers out there doing the same.

      Liked by 1 person

      • jimnelson806 says:

        Gee, why did I bother with my long winded administrative answer when you put it so well, Grace.

        Thanks for your service to our kids – it was such an important contribution.

        I know I sound a bit like an American who constantly thanks the troops for their service, but that’s how I feel about teachers.

        The general public feels that way in Finland , the consensus best education system in the world.

        We need more understanding and respect for the contribution of teachers to our children and our country.

        Liked by 1 person

    • jimnelson806 says:

      Thanks for your concern and for not jumping to false conclusions about teachers – I wish more people would seek to understand rather than just pre judging a complex activity like teaching.

      So what do teachers do during school start up? Why can’t my child begin class right away, and why are teachers now whining about not getting paid for one day of “preparation” when they clearly took almost an additional week of preparation before actually starting to teach?

      At the end of a school year,teachers clean up, submit marks,and meet to discuss what would be the best placement situation for each student the following year. None of this was done in June, due to the strike.

      At the beginning of the school year, teachers usually go in for a day or two, some more, in order to prepare their classroom,make sure they have enough desks, see class lists, talk with colleagues about their students needs.

      Teachers did some of this on Friday and will continue to do it off the side of their desks and after school.
      Friday was insufficient to do all this.But regardless, teachers would have been ready to teach children in classes on Monday, were it not for other logistic variables beyond their control.

      The delay in getting into actual classes in elementary schools isn’t teacher driven, it’s administratively driven.

      It is the administrative challenge of opening schools in Sept. that keeps kids in “family groups” for a couple of days until all the logistics are known.

      This is done because it works better for everyone if children are assigned to classes once they are sure they won’t have to move children from class to class later.

      Principals and parents have felt the trauma of having to move young kids to balance classes, kids who liked their class and then had to be wrenched away from a friend or a teacher they liked because of a change in staffing,or more special needs students showing up than planned,or fewer kids arriving at the door than expected.

      As a parent, I know it seems a bit much – a 5 minute registration day,a few days of “family group” activity after 5 weeks of no school – what the heck are those lazy teachers doing, sitting around drinking coffee? No, they’re not – teachers would prefer to be with their new class getting started.”Family groups” are not an easier activity for teachers than teaching a class.

      So what’s the holdup?

      Principals make enrolment projections in June – estimating how many students will arrive in each grade in September – it’s just an estimate.Some catchment areas are more transient than others.Families move in and out over the summer without informing the school. The only way to know enrolment is to count children on the first( 5 minute) day.

      Teaching staff is assigned to schools in June based on the lowest possible projection estimates,especially since funding cuts have squeezed staffing very tight. When I was organizing schools,the district could leave emergency staff at a school near which a high rise was being completed in October when more kids would be expected, or if the catchment had a high number of significantly challenged families. But that’s all gone- after years of cuts,no conditional staffing is possible.

      So School X has been allotted 16 teachers for September.
      On the first day, the kids show up, are welcomed, counted, and sent home.The Principal immediately emails the number to the school board office ,who is receiving the numbers of all the schools in the district.

      The personel department receives all the numbers and sees that twelve schools have more students than expected and 20 schools have fewer students than expected.

      The school district then has to re-assign teachers,removing teachers from under enrolled schools and moving them to over enrolled schools.They have to contact all the Principals, and discuss the new staffing levels.Some of these discussions can get spirited. The teachers being moved have to be consulted – all in a day,two at the most. Sometimes a portion of a teacher is added or removed. Sometimes,gaining or losing teachers forces Principals to re-configure classes to split grade classes or to add an extra class.It’s not an easy balancing act – especially if your child is involved.

      In addition, a profoundly challenged student might not show up, or two more than expected showed up, requiring the shuffling of classes and ed.assistants.

      So while the kids wonder whose class they’ll be in and the teachers just want to get classes started, parents are wondering “how many bloody days of preparation do those teachers need – they’ve been on strike for 5 weeks, let’s get going.

      While this is going on, Principals and the school district are working feverishly to finalize staff assignments so that children can confidently be placed in classes from which they won’t be moved a day or two later.

      A couple of days of “family groups” are not only necessary, they are helpful.Kids get to know each other, the teachers, and the school and I am constantly amazed at the creativity shown by schools in the organization of these activities.

      Imagine your child coming home in tears and your getting a phone call from the school on the third day of school saying that Johnny’s class had to be cancelled and Johnny would now be placed in a split grade class, away from his friends and the teacher he really liked.

      Better a couple of “Family grouping” days than that scenario.

      What we see as parents is that our child, eager to get back to work and turn over new leaves, doesn’t start real school for three or four days.
      Please know it has nothing to do with teachers wanting a cushy, relaxed preparation and start – it’s all about balancing district staff, organizing classes and district logistical imperatives.

      By the way, I submit to you that your children do start school right away, from the first moment they walk through the door. The important lessons in school aren’t learned in the classroom – but that’s for another rant.

      Education and schooling is so complex, it’s easy, not knowing what’s involved, to make all kinds of judgemental statements about teachers and schools -for months the internet and media have been depressingly full of indictments by people who know little about education – including those from our Minister of Education and Premier.

      Hope this helps you understand those confusing first days – they’re doing it right – they’re neither lazy or dawdling- the people at the board office who balance staff for the school district are hard working magicians (at least for this part of the year), as are the Principals and teachers who make it happen as quickly as possible without hurting children and parents feelings.

      Liked by 1 person

    • parent. says:

      district 43 parent. My kids did not have a classroom at all for the first week. They met in the library each day and colored. Now they have a classroom, however, the school has transformed into split grades for every single class in order to meet the stupid ratios (6 grade ones, 12 k’s….how would you feel as a grade one parent?). In the two weeks that the kids have now been in a classroom nothing has been taught. Free play, outdoor play and thats about it.


      • jimnelson806 says:

        I’m sorry you feel your child isn’t being taught, but rest assured,he or she is learning a lot ,even if it’s in the library colouring.

        It’s a bit early to be worrying about whether your school is measuring up. The school is filled with caring professionals who know their business and children.

        It’s not helpful to be judging the school already.School is where your child will learn lessons about themselves and the world in a safe environment and away from mom and dad. It’s not easy for us as parents, but it’s the most crucial contribution schools make. Right now they’re colouring and playing – it’s OK, have a little patience and a little trust. They won’t break your child ,they know what they’re doing.

        Please, for your child’s sake, let him or her be happy at school by supporting the school’s efforts, rather than condemning them in the first week. Smile. Give it a while. I’m sure they’ll be splitting the atom soon enough.

        It’s helpful for parents with children entering school to write down their worries and concerns about their child’s experiences in their early schooling.When you do that and then read it a few years later,you may find your outlook has changed.

        I was convinced my child was dyslexic in early grades. I was all wound up worrying that she was going to stack up and I ignored the school’s assurance that she was doing just fine, it might take a few months or even a year, but not getting all wound up about it was the important thing for my child to have me do.

        The teachers were right, I still feel a bit overprotective and foolish, but I learned that my perceptions were only mine, coloured by my desire that my child would measure up and come home with rave academic reviews. It never happened, yet still, she turned out just fine – better than I could ever have hoped. She did fine academically but did get rave reviews in what I now realize was much more important – a happy childhood,a cheerful disposition, kindness, an appreciation of hard work and for being a good citizen. All this despite the fact that she too did her fair share of colouring in early grades.

        Hindsight is 20-20. Give it a while. Let school work its magic for your child, not for you.

        The delay in getting into classes is an administrative problem. it’s not that schools or teachers don’t want to get started right away.

        People move over the summer, fewer or more kids show up than planned,the school district has to shift teachers from under subscribed schools to over subscribed school, especially these years when staffing is so tight due to funding cuts.Shifting staff around the district takes days.Principals wisely wait for all this staff balancing to happen instead of having to move your child out of a class later, when she is already settled and happy. So they have group activities, play games, and yes, colour, I suppose.

        The most important thing you can give your child at this time is support and validation of their experiences at school. Your child needs to know that schooling is worthwhile and that he or she is doing the right thing in participating fully. If your child ever thinks you consider the school silly or misguided, they will share your opinion in short order.

        As far as the stupid ratios are concerned,please don’t blame your school.Split classes are just as good learning situations as are single grade.”Grades” are
        only organizational approximations.Whether tyour child is the older or the younger in a split class, they benefit just as much from being the helper or the helped.


    • Jessica says:

      There is a lot that the general public doesn’t know about teacher’s responsibilities. I think many people think that our classrooms are fully stocked with all the books and materials we need, the schedules are in place and the furniture, bins, etc. are all in their rightful place. That, however, is not what it’s like.

      Many teachers start the year teaching a grade they’ve never taught before, in a classroom and school they’ve never been in. They have no idea what resources will be available to them and what state the classroom will be in. They also have to review and learn all the prescribed leaning outcomes and put together a year plan. They have to look though their student’s files, familiarizing themselves with the different needs in their classroom.

      I’ll just briefly share with you my experience.
      I started this year working full time in a grade that I’ve fortunately taught before but never on a full-time basis.

      I came in on the Friday to a portable that fortunately, thanks to my administrator, had all the desks and chairs placed and my bulletin boards were covered. Other than that, not one other thing was done. There wasn’t a book on a shelf or a poster on the wall. What there was was about 30 boxes stacked in the back of the room all needing to be unpacked. A few of the boxes were my supplies but the majority were from another classroom. I had no idea what I would find in them all. I spent my Friday and the rest of the weekend:
      -Rearranging furnishings so that I can fit my 30 students in a portable that is not designed for them.
      -Unpacking boxes, sorting and putting their contents away (this alone took hours and I had a crew of two other people helping me)
      -taking inventory of the resources available to me and my students
      -dividing resources and distributing them to the other same grade teachers
      -photo copying in preparation for the first week
      -reviewing the learning outcomes for my grade.
      -working on units I’ve never taught before
      -scavenging for storage bins because my room had none.

      You see, when Monday rolled around, my year started. I had my class, and they were there for a half day and from Tuesday on I had them full-time.

      Imaging walking into a facility that’s not set up and you are responsible for being ready to care for 30 individual’s learning needs in three days time. It’s a huge task.


  5. bryanjack says:

    Thanks for cataloguing this disgrace and indignity, Jim. Of several ways the board had to handle this pending issue, they seem to have deliberately chosen one which – continuing with the theme of the government’s disrespect – sticks its fingers in its teachers’ eyes.

    As long as I’ve attended and worked in Coquitlam schools (my whole life, save University), SD43 has been a “lighthouse” district. Whether buoyed by running the private enterprise of International Education on the backs of local students and families, or a more genuine will to live up to the mission statement emblazoned on board office walls and promotional materials, there has always seemed to be a sense of working ‘with’ the managers in Coquitlam.

    With one foot out the door, perhaps our superintendent is seeking to end this era with a flourish.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jimnelson806 says:

      When I wrote the blog,I didn’t know that the board made a conscious decision to not pay teachers for this day.I thought the decision was passive, going along with central office’s contract parsing and shrugging their shoulders.
      You’re the second person to say that it was an active choice by the board which makes it even more egregious.


      • Lance Munro says:

        Jim, I heartily endorse your blog post and all of it’s recognition of what has been forced on teachers. As an sd43 teacher, I also know the meaning of my pay statement.and some things being spread on social media are misguided, in my opinion.

        We’re not paid by “days”, rather our annual pay is averaged so each of the 10 months has an equal pay.We negotiated and agreed to this to prevent “lean” months.

        The monthly 10% is divided into 20 “units” (not days),

        This year October has 22 work days, November has only 19 work days, and December only 15!

        It’s not accurate to deduct 13 “days” and it’s also inaccurate to insist on pay for 8 “days”
        No-one made a decision to “not pay” anything. Friday is being counted as part of our regular working year.

        None of this changes the emotional impact and optics of the situation, Any good professional manager should have seen it coming. Teachers should be upset and feel disrespected by the casual and insensitive way this was handled. Those in financial straits take no comfort that September’s pay will eventually be made up.


      • jimnelson806 says:

        Thanks for clarifying, Lance.
        As I said in my blog, it’s 20 days per month, whether one calls them “units” or “days”.
        To determine pay for September, did the district not have to consider the numbers 20 and 13 in their computation of pay lost to strike? If so,
        that leaves seven not the eight worked.

        Was not the “pay for friday” thing an assurance included in the provincial agreement that supercedes local agreements re pay?
        Further, I understand that a majority of other districts chose to “pay their teachers” for the 8 days worked in Sept. despite being governed by similar local contracts.

        I also understand that this conundrum was considered by district staff and that an active decision was taken to not follow the lead of other districts that decided it was prudent to pay first, ask questions later.

        Anyway, as you correctly point out, any district leader(s) worth their salt would have seen this for the powder keg it was and have been able to steer diplomatically around the perception that the district was willing to add insult to the grave injury suffered during the strike.



      • Mike McElgunn says:

        Yes, not paying teachers for the prep day was a choice made at some level at the Board Office.
        Treasurer Mark Ferarri defended the District’s decision at last Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting, stating that the employer paid teachers according to a “pro-rating formula in the local Collective Agreement” and that the teachers’ union had “misunderstood the terms” under which they would be paid for the day. Basically we are paid 20 days per month no matter how many days we work. Since strike action affected 13 days in September, 20 minus 13 equals 7 days of pay…. even though we worked 8 with an agreement between BCPSEA and the BCTF that we would be paid for the one day of preparation before students arrived at the door on Monday. Apparently 48 other districts also “misunderstood the terms” since they actually paid their teachers for the day as promised. Oddly, we had no idea the district was handling the non-payment this way until our end of month statements arrived.
        I also gather paying teachers for this day would not have cost the district anything from the current budget as the payments were seen as an operational cost of the job action to the district before the balance of the strike savings was clawed back to general revenue in Victoria.
        This is a much bigger issue than simply a day’s pay. This is a matter of trust and principle. It is a sad day for the Tri-Cities.


  6. Matt Westphal says:

    I hope that the Ministry will tell SD43 that it will claw back unpaid wages of Fri., Sept. 19 as “strike savings”, so as to remove the financial incentive to gouge this money from Coquitlam teachers. What a shabby trick, for the District to rely on that collective agreement wording to avoid a promise made by BCPSEA, its bargaining agent, that Friday would be a paid day. If the calculation of teachers’ pay is the same (i.e. 20 days minus 13 strike days equals 7 days), whether or not Sept. 19 is included, then it is impossible to say that Friday was a paid day. Therefore, they are in breach of the return-to-work agreement, and should lose at arbitration. What is disappointing is that they would even try this, and require the union and district to go to the expense of an arbitration. So much for the new relationship trumpeted by the provincial government!


  7. J.E. says:

    I personally put in a 10 hour day that Friday (and many more in my head before that). With the support of family, staff and a very supportive parent we barely scratched the surface of what had to be done to move and prepare a classroom, without even beginning to prepare a program. I have been working until 6 or later most nights since school began, trying not to let the crazy start up show with my students.

    This week I was ‘honoured’ first with a slap in the face (losing the days pay for Friday Sept, 19th) and then a pat on the back for long service to this district. Receiving a pen for 25 years ‘service’ to SD43 in the same week as being docked a days pay is a cheap trade. It made all the thanks and congratulations from board members ring hollow indeed.


  8. Meisje says:

    > What? Coquitlam? Arguably the most progressive school district in B.C.?

    You’re kidding me, right? Coquitlam who laid off 8 of their speech pathologists and HOW many teachers this June? Do you really think this district is known for being progressive? (!)


    • jimnelson806 says:

      You’re right about cutting speech pathologists, and youth workers, and staff development of all kinds, and teaching staff, and CUPE workers and maintenance, but
      yes, believe it or not, Coquitlam has always been seen as a lighthouse district in B.C.The district has led the way in staff development, when schools still had that sort of thing. Coquitlam led the way in labour relations, proud of the mutual respect always shown among working groups, administration, and district staff.
      CUPE in Coquitlam has always been a respected, equal partner. Coquitlam led the lower mainland into the middle school configuration, the single best change in twenty years.
      Come to think of it, all those things I mentioned are things that Coquitlam used to be known for. Most of the change in that can be laid at the feet of years of chronic underfunding. It’s hard to be a lighthouse district if your foundations aren’t kept sound.


  9. Wendy Meston says:

    CUPE in district 43 DID NOT GET PAID. I am a CUPE member who proudly walked the line with my teachers and I suffered financially. There is no money for me yet. IF we ratify both parts of our contract (wages and benefits provincially and work conditions with our district) then part of that deal is wage reimbursement, however teachers should brace because the concessions the employers wants from us CUPE are huge and we will stand as strong as you did and vote YES to stike because we would rather have our jobs then the money we lost holding the line with you. But I ask you, will you return the favour in November and hold the line with us?


    • jimnelson806 says:

      I beg your pardon, Wendy. You’re quite correct about CUPE not having been paid yet.But it is part of the offer to CUPE that was put in by government negotiators to try to make it easier for CUPE to feel secure about teachers being on strike – another strategy used to goad teachers towards strike.

      CUPE will be paid for the strike days when agreement is reached. It’s the only money that’s on the table,above the 1% the teachers were forced to accept.
      CUPE wouldn’t negotiate away money already publicly offered.

      That said,people do think CUPE has already settled and thus have been paid. Thanks for reminding them that they have not.

      You’re also right about CUPE support during the teacher’s strike. Every picket line I visited (6) had CUPE members standing with the teachers
      in support.Teachers are very aware and appreciative of that support I’m sure.

      I wish CUPE good luck in their continued negotiations


  10. Renovation Man says:

    You hit the nail on the head with this one. However, stating that Coquitlam is arguably one of the most progressive districts in the province would be a little off the mark. The senior admin (or as they like to call themselves a “Leadership Team”) over the years have moved Coquitlam from a great district to work at to just another district in the system. Things have changed in Coquitlam since we had your generation working. Those were the golden years when we had outspoken leaders with differing opinions about education. Now it would appear that our district is more concerned with people following rules and staying in line rather than the actual education of students. It is a sad reality. Our district is so far gone that I know of teachers and parents who agree to let their child be held back because it is the right educational decision and the board doesn’t allow it to happen. The concept of what is important to a child’s learning and growth doesn’t even enter the conversation. Too bad money can’t either (since the forensic audit mentioned that the board should have some idea of how money works)
    With respect to the theft of a days pay, this decision only makes sense to me, the board can now collect the money from the province and not pass it on to teachers. This will allow them to partially help pay down a debt that they created because of gross mismanagement. Don’t fret yourself, we wouldn’t want anybody who is making tonne of money to pay for their mistakes, the board will just layoff some more useless teachers. What do they produce? (sorry, I couldn’t find the sarcasm font for this part of the reply)


  11. MrsB says:

    Just as an FYI, Langley paid teachers for the Friday. Our current superintendent, Suzanne Hoffman, is definitely leading the district in the right direction. Had our previous superintendent still been at the helm, I have no doubt that we wouldn’t have received pay for that day.


    • jimnelson806 says:

      Great to hear that Langley is becoming more progressive. I promise to stop using Langley as an example when i talk about conservative districts.
      Langley has had the bad rap for years since the old back to basics, traditional schools, book banning days. Sadly It looks as if Coquitlam is exchanging places with Langley in that regard.


  12. Nicole says:

    It is my understanding that in the districts this has happened, it will be grieved. My district tried the 20-13=7 formula, until our union pointed out a clause in the CA that dealt with payment in partial months worked. This clause states that in a situation such as this, you don’t deduct the amount not worked, but actually count the days that were worked. Our district agreed that the union was correct and paid us for 8 days.


    • jimnelson806 says:

      Nicole – What district did this?
      I think I have it straight now. If not, my friend Lance Munro will correct me i know.

      Were there no strike at all, teachers would have worked for 21 days in September and got paid for 20 days, just as they would in any of 10 months worked including Dec. (14 days, paid for 20), Feb. (18 or 19 days ,paid for 20) and March ( not many days,paid for 20)
      To conclude that it was Sept.19th for which the teachers weren’t paid rather than the 21st day, Sept. 30th, is not defensible.

      So most teachers were paid appropriately for September. But some districts, quite a few I’m told, did pay their teachers for one extra day, Sept. 19th, assuming that the provincial agreement signed specifically included payment for Friday Sept.19th.

      Districts that paid their teachers an extra day in September will have to claw that money back later, from either the teachers or the provincial government, by reducing the amount the government “claws back” for strike savings from those districts.

      The government won’t add any clarity for fear they’ll get stuck with the whole bill for Sept. 19th pay. So they’ll let the district’s cover the extra day by “leaving it up to each district” as to whether to pay teachers for the extra day in
      Sept. or not. they’ll say that teachers were “eligible” for pay on Sept. 19th but that the government would never supercede local contracts… yada yada yada

      If there is any chance that when the heat dies down, some districts get a break on the clawback because they paid their teachers an extra day, it will not only be disgraceful optics, but a complete travesty.

      I know in Coquitlam, teachers are furious with their district office and trustees, for not taking a shot at paying teachers for the extra day in September and subtracting it from the “clawback” the government will claim.

      It was worth a shot and certainly would have shown teachers that they are supported by their school district.
      Instead, the district allowed teachers to work for 8 days and get paid for 7 in September with no explanation at all until
      after the fact.

      Even Abbotsford, who also didn’t pay the extra day, sent a letter home to all Abbotsford teachers explaining the salary
      conundrum. It didn’t work, because Abbotsford teachers are not yet willing to trust their current more reasonable board, having been so disgusted with past boards who have been painfully and harmfully conservative and reactionary.


  13. DoneWithSD43 says:

    District 43 may have once been a ‘Lighthouse’ but it is now no better than an old worn down ‘Doghouse.’ Leadership is non-existent and cronyism is ever prevalent. Laying off hundreds of teachers every year and then re-posting them to positions they are not qualified to teach just shows how incompetent SD43 really is. The teachers and students are the ones paying the price while the bloated over-staffed district office continues to pay themselves inflated wages.


    • jimnelson806 says:

      I’m a bit taken aback by the number of Coquitlam people who don’t consider their district to be a “lighthouse” district. I suppose things have changed since I was behind the plow in SD #43.
      When I came to Coquitlam,13 of the 35 teachers in my Jr. high school were brand new teachers right out of teacher training. Coquitlam was where people wanted to be. Teachers were young, administrators experienced, older, generally sensible people who actually did know better than we greenhorns.
      CUPE members came to all the staff parties and the impromptu sessions on fridays at the local “library” – our euphemism for the local pub.

      “Reminder to all staff about the meeting on intrinsic educational motivation at 3:45 in the library” was the call over the PA each week to remind everyone that we’d see them at the pub – sometimes 30 of 35 would show up. Morale was sky high.Salaries were comparable to teachers in the rest of Canada and slightly higher than those of a firefighter, policeman, or nurse.

      There were pencils and paper and overhead pens in the supply room and we could replace equipment over $50 each year if it was old. We could order supplies for our classrooms each year, and be confident that we’d get them in September. As athletic director, I had no trouble finding a full complement of coaches for all school teams and was able to keep an inventory of acceptable uniforms for each team without parental money raising.

      The school board office turned to teachers for advice on curricular and non curricular matters and guidance and they had enough staff development money to be able to bring in master teachers to help develop curricula and materials.Teachers were included in decision making.

      Each year there was a Professional development focus – Madeline Hunter’s ITIP ( instructional theory into practice)unheard of now, helped numerous teachers develop effective lesson planning habits.

      The superintendent and board office had some discretionary money for small renovation projects that they could assign to schools each year, to build a sand volleyball court or buy a new metal lathe for the shop.Schools were painted on a three year rotation schedule, weeds were pulled by summer employees,grass was cut regularly, usually by district #43 kids between university terms.

      Water fountains were serviced and replaced periodically as were shower facilities, including new shower curtains every second year or so.

      A complement of new desks were ordered to replace damaged desks each year.
      Libraries had librarians with a budget to buy new books each year, schools had a counsellor for each 300 students, there were district speech pathologists, gifted education consultants,P.E coordinators,special education coordinators,Professional development specialists,French Immersion departments.Schools had a school nurse for Gods sake.

      Schools had resources ,and Coquitlam was a lighthouse district, it led the way, in teaching methodology, professional development,special needs practices, and employee relations.

      During this golden age, cities and school boards had some say over funding local schools, respected their schools and teachers, paid their teachers a reasonable salary.

      It was also during this time that Langley, with outspoken trustee Peter Fasssbender, became the laughing stock of progressive school districts, with their move to bring back corporal punishment, push “traditional schools” and follow Surrey’s lead in banning books. Langley was a punch line, the epitome of a board who knew nothing about education,thought they did, and acted as insensitively as any BC board has ever acted.

      That’s who’s in charge now in Victoria.

      The golden years of public education in B.C. are gone. Overworked and disrespected teachers can’t and won’t coach or sponsor, they distrust administration, who only make the non stop cuts work by creatively increasing workloads.

      Board offices get nothing but fiscal bad news and they can’t ever give teachers or schools anything that will help them.

      It’s absolutely tragic that teachers won’t consider going to the pub with colleagues anymore because they just want to get home and relax before the next onslaught.

      Our trustees are well meaning but feckless, with nothing to do but decide how to spend each year’s declining budget, what to cut and where.

      Yes Coquitlam was a lighthouse district, in a generation past.

      But now,all of that is gone. Coquitlam is becoming Langley and Langley is paying their teachers for Sept. 19th because, damn the torpedoes, they were promised payment by BCPSEA,government negotiators, and the BCTF, none of whom knew that they were in fact promising an extra day’s pay for teachers for September. But Coquitlam felt it necessary to point out the error, not pay teachers for the day, and ensure that the gov’t would get the full strike savings clawback from school district #43.


  14. Sam says:

    Yes, JIm, those were the days, and I feel so fortunate to have taught in Coquitlam when it was THE ‘lighthouse’ in the province. The fact that it is now a shadow of its former self, was part of the reason I decided to leave teaching when I did, though I enjoyed it right up to my last day.

    I feel so sorry for my youger colleges who started teaching recently and know nothing about (what was) Winslow Centre, Donna Greenstreet, George Longstaff and all the other amazing resource people we once had. I can’t remember the last time I was told, here’s some money to buy things for your classroom.

    Yes, those truly were the ‘good old days’.


  15. qualicum beach says:

    Teachers are a strange group. I can’t think of any other group that is quite willing to work overtime for free. They get paid for September to June, and yet you will find them packing up their classrooms for days/weeks in July and again in late August setting up and preparing their classrooms for the start of the school year. You see them sneaking into schools on weekends to do work/prepping materials that they didn’t have time to do during the week.
    People often forget that teachers have families too. Kids that have to get to after school sports events, swimming lessons etc….just the same as other parents. Everyone knows that juggling work and family responsibilities is not an easy task and yet the public expects/demands that teachers be available to the students and their parents at all hours. At times I think teachers are suckers for punishment….they just can’t turn away a needy child or ignore a frustrated parent. It boggles my mind that a teacher ….am thinking high school here…. who is seeing bet ween 150-200 kids in a typical block rotation is expected to be up to speed on each child’s learning style/problems….be aware of the family situation and able to satisfy them all 100% in educational outcomes.
    Teachers are expected to be masters of their curriculum field, social workers, family therapists, security guards, psychologists and anything else the public feels they should be doing.If things go wrong with a child, blame the educational system…obviously they didn’t do their job.
    I could go on forever on how teachers are made to feel like scapegoats, made to feel guilty,almost embarrassed to tell folks they are a teacher. Like, being a teacher is something that you should be ashamed of. Where did your parents go wrong in your upbringing?
    Teachers…..Thank You for standing up for what you believe in…..Thank You for the courage you demonstrate…..and Most of all….Thank you for the love of learning you try to pass along to the kids you teach. It is often a thankless task.


  16. Christine Hargrove says:

    If not paying employees in exchange for work does not convince the general population that the school board office in SD43 is morally and ethically corrupt I don’t know what would. A few years back (as an employee of SD43) my department of two was told we were moving in a week. My supervisor would be away on course. I went in to work. Two and a half day later another supervisor informed me that I was on holidays and thus would not be paid for the days worked. I went to Human Resources and said I had neglected to change my holidays 24 hours prior to the Monday.
    HR Manager said, “The employer does not take issue with how employees spend their vacation”.
    I said then HR would have to send someone over to finish packing and labeling boxes for the Saturday move.
    HR Manager said, “How much is left to pack?” I said, “that’s irrelevant, but since I am on vacation I am leaving”.
    HR Manager said,”Wait until I can reach your Immediate supervisor for clarification she expected you to work”.
    I said,”Sorry, I’m on vacation and need to leave”.
    HR Manager said “Give me the form and I’ll sign it.
    There are three cases of Senior Secretary’s not being paid for coming into work when their vacation plans fell through – even though no one was to replace them for their vacation – that only happens with Elementary school secretaries. The District Leadership Team housed in the School Board Office are a noble bunch (note sarcasm) – they’ve almost tripled their management team in the board office while ripping off employees. Thank God I am retired. Go to – STOP-BULLYING – it’s an interesting read.


  17. Pingback: Abbotsford School District’s Curious Math Skills | abbytrusteeinfo

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