Maple Ridge school events already cancelled
School events across the district are being cancelled this week as a ban by Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows teachers on extracurricular volunteering took effect on Monday.
At Maple Ridge secondary, the school’s Ka-Vroom soapbox derby is one of the events that won’t be happening this year as a result. The annual event is organized by the school’s Grade 8 FACTS (For Academically Creative and Talented Students) program, with the “hope of bringing our community together by having families working together to make a cart to race,” according to the event’s website.
At Thomas Haney secondary, teachers are considering cancelling the girls’ soccer season, which is set to get underway next week.
Andrea Clayton, the school’s athletic director, said while many teachers are upset with the provincial government for legislating them back to work, some teachers don’t want to give up coaching their sports teams.
“A lot of people are emotionally charged right now,” she said.
Schools across the district are also looking at cancelling track and field and rugby seasons.
Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school board chair Mike Murray said extracurricular activities are an important part of school culture.
“For many students, they are a very enriching part of their education. Certainly they were a very important to me during my time ... in secondary school,” he said. “But I respect the situation is a difficult one.”
Maple Ridge Teachers’ Association president George Serra said local teachers voted in favour of halting extracurricular volunteering earlier this month because they were left with few other options in their ongoing contract dispute with the provincial government, after being legislated back to work after a three-day walkout earlier this month.
“Parents have been quite understanding,” Serra said. “They don’t like it, but they understand it.”
The long-term implications of the province’s back-to-work legislation, which forces teachers into mediation but doesn’t let them negotiate class size or composition, are far worse than the short-term effects of the ban on volunteering.
“Some parents get that and some don’t,” said Serra. “We understand that.”
Serra noted the local ban is voluntary and teachers who choose to continue won’t be reprimanded by the MRTA. Teachers are also being encouraged to continue any extracurricular activities already underway, Serra said, to respect the efforts of students.
However, the B.C. Teachers’ Federation will be holding a vote in mid-April to take the extracurricular ban province-wide. Should that vote pass, all teachers would have to comply with the ban, or face disciplinary action from the union.