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Teachers union considering five-year action plan

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Sea to Sky teachers added their voice to a province-wide walk-out Monday and demonstrated outside Squamish school board offices.

"We had an absolutely awesome rally," said Reimer.

Across the province about 45,000 teachers took the day off work, for which they will be docked pay of about $280, to protest the government’s imposed settlement.

In Vancouver 11,000 teachers and supporters gathered at the Pacific Coliseum. In Victoria another 3,500 marched on the Legislature and thousands more took part in marches all over the province.

The teachers had been negotiating for more than 10 months.

They wanted class-size provisions, provisions to determine the number of specialty teachers in each school, defined support for special needs students, and a salary increase of 18 per cent.

They got a 7.5 per cent pay hike over three years.

The government took the class size issue and put it into the School Act.

All districts are now required:

• To have a kindergarten class size average of 19 with a top limit of 22 compared to a 20 student cap in the previous teacher’s contract.

• Grades 1-3 will have an average of 21 students with a maximum of 24 compared to 22 previously.

• Grades 4-12 the district sets an average of 30 with no maximum set. These classes were previously capped in local agreements and varied from district to district.

The districts will also be required to report to the education ministry and the parent advisory councils each year on class size.

Guarantees of services to students with special needs and guarantees of support from specialist teachers, such as librarians, counsellors, ESL and learning resource teachers, have been removed from the collective agreement and handed over to the school districts as well.

There will be no extra money from Victoria to cover the costs of the wage increase for teachers. The money will have to come from funding already allocated to school boards.

Managing these things on a district level is bad news for the corridor said Reimer.

There are very small schools like the one in Black Water Creek and small classes in other schools like Whistler Secondary which will skew district averages.

The result could be fewer larger classes in big schools such as Howe Sound Secondary.

"I truly believe there will be costs to kids here," said Reimer.

Ken Denike, chairman of the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association hopes teachers will re-focus on education now that the settlement is in place.