Strike could disrupt exams, report cards in New West

Teachers at Tweedsmuir elementary school man their picket line on Monday, May 26 as part of the BC Teachers
Teachers at Tweedsmuir elementary school man their picket line on Monday, May 26 as part of the BC Teachers' Federation's rotating strikes to put pressure on contract negotiations.

Exam supervision and report cards are the biggest concerns for the New Westminster school district if a province-wide teachers strike goes ahead.

Membership of the B.C. Teachers Federation voted 86 per cent in favour of a strike earlier this week. On Wednesday evening they gave their 72-hour strike notice for Tuesday, but also announced Monday would be a study day and teachers would not be in school.

Superintendent/CEO John Gaiptman said Wednesday the district was planning for school on Monday, but  making contingency plans for after that.

“I remain hopeful that there can be a resolution. Yes, we’re looking at what happens if something goes wrong, but at the same time we’re looking at seeing our students tomorrow (Thursday) and continuously see them until the end of school,” said Gaiptman on Wednesday.

He added graduation ceremonies would go ahead but they’d be more complicated and have a different tone to them. Exam supervision and report cards are another matter.

“Those are the big ones. We’ll work our way through it. Whatever it is we’ll make the best out of the situation,” said Gaiptman.

He admitted dealing with the details of a possible strike is taking away time from solving the district’s budgetary woes which he was brought in to do.

“It’s not so much the time. It is the fact that you’re limited in a strike situation,” said Gaiptman. “You can’t have the meetings that you normally have, you can’t share the professional development that you normally would. It’s just not ideal situations. But you don’t always get to work under ideal situations, and our hope is that once there is resolution we’re going to be able to turn around and all be going in the right direction and this will strengthen us as a team in the end.”

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