President of the Campbell River and District Teachers’ Association

‘Incredible improvement’ coming to Campbell River Schools – CRDTA Pres

New deal between BCTF and government goes to ratification vote this week

“It’s a good day.”

That’s what Dave Harper, president of the Campbell River and District Teachers’ Association, had to say after the province and the BC Teachers’ Federation reached a tentative deal this past weekend to reinstate contract provisions restored to pre-2002 language as ordered by the Supreme Court of Canada in a ruling last November.

The ratification vote is scheduled to happen on Thursday and Friday of this week, but Harper says he has “a hard time imagining, personally, that it’s not going to be ratified. There’s nothing in this for the members that isn’t an incredible improvement on the way things are now. I can’t think of a reason why anyone would vote no to this.”

So what would this deal look like for the children of the Campbell River School District?

“It looks like a return to the way things were before everything was unconstitutionally stripped in 2002,” Harper says. “It’s a return to what I would consider the good old days of having known, solid, predictable baseline staffing levels for every school. It’s a return to having proper levels of teacher librarians, learning assistance teachers, ESL teachers, counsellors in middle and secondary schools, class-size limits – it’s good all around.”

“We’re going to be returning to the days of rather than numbers following funding, we’re going to have funding driven by solid, baseline numbers,” he continues. “That’s the way it was prior than 2002 when (then Liberal Premier Gordon) Campbell decreed they needed flexibility and we’ve had 15 years of total gong show, school closures and nightmares.”

Harper says he doesn’t foresee any “significant issues” with suddenly adding a ton of staff to schools that haven’t had them for 15 years.

“If you look around town, there are spaces within the schools,” Harper says. “I’m not claiming there won’t be a few hiccups, because of course there will, but there have been a lot more than hiccups for the last 15 years, so I’ll accept a few to improve things, thank you very much.”

And while he’s still disappointed that it took this long for the whole saga to play itself out, he’s finally able to allow himself to celebrate a bit.

“The teachers that came into the system after 2002 are not going to believe how much better it will be next September,” he says. “They have no idea how great teaching can be, and how nice it is to not be looking over your shoulder wondering when the next cut is coming and where it’s coming from.”

Whether those improved classroom conditions will last may be another story, however. The contract language being restored – should the agreement be ratified this week – will only pertain to the current contract, which expires in two years.

“All of a sudden they’ve seen the light because the Supreme Court of Canada has made them see the light and they’re trying to pretend they think this is a great idea. I mean, it’s great that they’re willing to at least pretend, because that means they have to fund it.

“In two years’ time, we’ll see what happens,” Harper continues. “It’ll probably depend on who the employer is. Quite frankly, I don’t trust the BC Liberals not to have a lockout in two years’ time and force us to try to defend what we’ve just spent 15 years fighting to get back.”