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New Westminster trustees tell both sides to do a deal

New Westminster board of education chair Jonina Campbell -
New Westminster board of education chair Jonina Campbell
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The New Westminster board of education has fired off a letter to both sides in the teachers contract dispute asking them to re-double their efforts to find an immediate solution.

The letter was addressed to Education Minister Peter Fassbender and Jim Iker, head of the B.C. Teachers Federation (BCTF). It was signed by board chair Jonina Campbell.

The board applauded them for their willingness to use a mediator, but wants them to agree on one right away and return to the bargaining table with that person.

"The community's faith in public education is being eroded and we believe that returning to the table with a mediator will help find resolution and end job action," said the letter. "When you look past the brave faces of our teachers and support staff, you learn that morale is quite low. Our principals and vice-principals are exhausted from the demands placed upon them. Our students are concerned about exams, report card marks and year-end activities. Our parents are considering options outside the public education system. We need to find a resolution and we need to find a resolution as soon as possible."

The letter said public education has never been as threatened as it is now and calls on both side to "please take on the mantle of courageous leadership and dow what needs to be done in order to resolve this impasse."

John GaiptmanThe district continues to make plans on the fly thanks to the labour stalemate. On Tuesday, Iker announced if no deal is struck the teachers will picket summer school. New Westminster superintendent/CEO John Gaiptman said the district is planning for a limited summer school. Whether it goes ahead is dependent on a Labour Relations Board decision. It will determine if teaching students enrolled in summer school because they failed a course was an essential service.

Gaiptman said usually summer school is made up of about 70 per cent students wanting to get ahead in their courses and not because they failed any. He said the district isn't planning on providing courses for those students, only for the 30 per cent looking to upgrade their mark.

He urged parents and students to consult the district website (sd40.bc.ca). "This is such a fluid issue and things seem to change on a daily basis that we want to make sure at all times that the correct information is coming out."

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