Almost 500 Near North District School Board elementary teachers could end up working-to-rule in March if an agreement over preparation time isn’t reached and could ultimately end up striking.
Earlier this week 492 teachers, members of the Near North local of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, voted 91 per cent in favour of any and all action, including a full-withdrawal-of-services strike, to achieve their contract goals, EFTO president Emily Noble said
>Talk to the province
The teachers currently receive 150 minutes of paid preparation time but are seeking 200 paid minutes, the same amount secondary school teachers with the Near North
board are given.
Noble said the issue isn’t just a local once, since most public board across Ontario, with the exception of Ottawa-Carlton, which provides 200 minutes, only provide 150.
“The boards are saying ‘we don’t have money, you need to talk to the province and lobby it,’ which we’re doing,” Noble said.
Noble also said since teacher contracts now run three years, preparation time increases could be phased in over that period.
ETFO Near North Teacher local president Nancy Kilgour said her members will not settle for anything less than “what Ottawa-Carleton teachers already have.”
Kilgour said “there is still time” for the board to do its part, “and avoid the possibility of disruptive job action.”
The contract between ETFO teachers and the Near North board expired at the end of last September, and board chairman Jay Aspin concedes “the clock is ticking” on a possible work-to-rule campaign in March.
“I remain hopeful this will be resolved, but it’s going to be a challenge since it would require a substantial amount of money,” Aspin said.
“But we won’t be able to resolve this without the help of the province.”
First five years
Noble called current prep time for public school elementary teachers “inadequate.”
“We have a whole group of new teachers coming and 30 per cent of them are leaving within the first five years because of workload,” Noble said.
“There’s the new curriculum but no time to implement it, three report cards and three interim report cards, as well as things like getting students ready for testing.”
Near North director of education Colin Vickers said relations with elementary teachers remain “amicable.”
“We will work as hard as possible to avoid any disruption to the education of our students,” Vickers said.