Vernon School District trustees were left fighting off accusations that they aren’t actively doing enough to get students back into class.
At Wednesday’s board meeting, several teachers and parents blasted trustees for not being vocal or placing pressure on the government to settle the dispute before classes are supposed to resume next week.
“Stand up and put this first and get it done,” said teacher Robyn Ladner.
Trustees voted to write another letter to the B.C. Public School Employers Association and the B.C. Teachers Federation asking that mediation begin immediately so a contract can be reached.
“We’re past letter writing. You have a room full of teachers who want to start school next week,” said Ladner.
“Your letter will not break a log jam.”
A parent also urged trustees to be more active.
“Come out on the picket line and start doing something. Stand in front of the MLA’s office,” he said.
“That’s going to work?” responded chairperson Bill Turanski, which led to some teachers shouting, “That’s not funny.”
Trustee Tami Ryder defended the process the board has taken over the labour dispute.
“We’ve written six letters since March,” she said.
“We are a very vocal board and we have sat here with huge concerns. We do what we can.”
Ladner, though, continued the pressure.
“We (teachers) cannot do this by ourselves. Push for mediation and push for the minister not to sabotage it,” she said.
Turanski eventually closed off the debate by taking issue with the comments from teachers.
“The people here work their butts off to run the district and you should have more confidence in them,” he said.
Also on Wednesday, trustees passed a motion opposing the provincial government giving $40 a day to parents for child care if a contract is not reached with teachers before next week.
“These funds need to be put back into schools,” said trustee Kelly Smith.
“It’s a manipulation and we need to say that,” added trustee Mollie Bono.
The board’s motion drew concern from Sheri Minard, District Parent Advisory Council president.
“Some parents will need that $40 if school does not go back. There is a financial need to pay for day care,” she said.
Mediator Vince Ready began exploratory talks Thursday with the BCTF and the BCPSEA but he had not agreed to mediation yet as of press time.