Kanaka Creek elementary back in class

BCTF agrees to lift picket line after Labour Relations Board ruling.

School is back in session at Kanaka Creek elementary after the B.C. Teachers’ Federation agreed to lift its picket line at the year-round school.

“That, to me, is a show of good faith from the BCTF,” said Deanna Lackey, of the school’s parent advisory council.

“They are fighting for kids.”

The Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school district sent a letter to parents, dated June 28, saying that all teaching, clerical and support staff will be in attendance, and there will be no picketing outside the Maple Ridge school, which has three weeks left in its balanced calendar.

“I know many of you were growing increasingly concerned about the possibility of continued disruption to your child’s learning, and I am very happy to be able to share this good news with you,” said a letter signed by acting superintendent Laurie Meston.

It was a relief to parents, who worried their children could miss more than five weeks of school – unlike the two weeks that students on the traditional calendar missed.

Kanaka has a balanced calendar, with three three-month terms, with a month off between each.

The strike began right in the middle of the final term.

With the strike lifted, students will be back in school until July 23.

The letter from the board said that the Labour Relations Board ordered school to resume there, and at other schools around the province with year-round calendars. However, it was the union that decided to lift the picket line.

The Kanaka calendar has students scheduled to return to class in early September, at the same time as the rest of the district.

“If it [the teachers strike] is not resolved by then, we’re in the same situation as everyone else come September,” said Lackey.

She added that Kanaka parents were particularly worried about the Grade 7 students, who would be behind their high school peers as they started Grade 8 next year.

The union leadership had indicated that it was concerned with the amount of payroll the Kanaka teachers could potentially be asked to give up, and the Maple Ridge Teachers’ Association lobbied the union leadership on their behalf.

There is a couple who both teach at the school, noted Lackey, and another two Kanaka teachers are married to teachers from other schools – so the job action had the potential to cause real financial hardship.

The Labour Relations Board offered a ruling about summer school, declaring it an essential service for all students who have failed required courses – but only those which they will not be able to take again next year. Students who simply want to improve a passing grade will not have that opportunity this summer, because the BCTF strike continues.

Under the LRB ruling, the board must now give the MRTA a list of all remedial Grade 10, 11 and 12 courses that it will offer. It is due by noon Wednesday.

Thursday morning they are to meet, and determine how many teachers will be needed. The government must lift its lockout for these teachers, who are operating under an essential services order.

The two sides continued negotiations through the weekend, under a media blackout.

The $1,200 signing bonus contained in the last offer from the B.C. Public School Employer’s Association was contingent on the deal being accepted by a June 30 deadline.

High schools are handing out report cards. Visit school websites and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter for updates.