Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Different visions seem to be coming out of the visioning committee

The Prince Rupert District Teacher’s Union and the International Union of Operating Engineers are both expressing their disappointment at the way that recent District Visioning Committee sessions have evolved.

This after their recommendations were left out of an interim report put together by the committee, based on a group of issues that may lead up to the closure of a number of schools in the city.

The two unions were particularly upset that their concerns were left off of the discussion, concerns that a number of their membership felt were of great importance to the issues being discussed by the Committee.

The rather hurried approach that has more or less left the two local unions shuffled to the sidelines in the Committee plans has the two groups rethinking their participation in the Vision Committee’s future.

The Daily news provided some background information on the controversial issue in Wednesday’s paper.

Unions express dismay at school district committee
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Page Three

The Prince Rupert District Teacher's Union and the International Union of Operating Engineers may both step away from the District Visioning Committee after their recommendations were left out of the DVC's interim report.

The report was the centre of much debate among trustees at the District 52 school board meeting last night, as it was made clear to the board that the two unions did not feel the position of their members were represented in the interim report that was officially received last night. In fact, an emergency meeting of the DVC was called earlier this month to address the issue, and it was decided that the two unions would have their own member reports added to the meeting agenda.

"Referring to the December 21 article on the front page of the newspaper, [the interim report] was not 'unanimously agreed' as reported," said Colleen Wiens, I.U.O.E. Local 882 recording secretary and trustee. "There was no vote, there was no motion. And as for 'we all agreed,' we were directed to take this interim report back to our members. The I.U.O.E. did not agree to give Kanata a third reading."

Wiens told the school board that because timelines for the DVC to deliver their report were short, and because the closure of Seal Cove and Kanata had already been given first and second reading, it was decided by the other committee members to complete the process with a third reading.

"To me, this does not support student achievement, and there were no reasons given for student achievement," she said. "We now have to seek legal advice, so the I.U.O.E. is not sure whether it will be remaining at the table or not."

Joanna Larson, PRDTU president said her members were also dismayed with the direction that the DVC had taken in its recommendations. She said the drafted interim report left out key issues that teachers felt strongly about, particularly what will happen when Prince Rupert Secondary School is eventually replaced. The PRDTU also felt strongly that an alternate school program should be reinstated in the district, because the Friendship House programs is only for students 16 and over.

"The group went away from their mandate of 'district visioning' and making decisions based on education reasons, to simply closing schools in an attempt to get a new one," said Larson.

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