Parents can breathe a sigh of relief, for now, as a back-to-school strike has been averted, for at least the first week of classes.
In his new role, B.C. Education Minister Peter Fassbender is happy to oversee the process and see everyone “sit down and work through the outstanding issues.”
The province’s lead negotiator Peter Cameron will play the key role in the new bargaining sessions have been scheduled for Sept. 4 to 6.
The school year begins on Sept. 3.
While in 2012, it was the teachers who took job action, this time it’s support staff, including education assistants, custodians, secretaries and bus drivers.
They have been without a contract since June, 2012.
Negotiations had reached an impasse and so recently, they voted in favour of striking.
The B.C. Teachers Federation indicated last week that its members wouldn’t cross the picket line.
The government did increase its per pupil funding last year which helped Langley School District pay off its deficit.
But Fassbender wouldn’t say if there was any new money for school boards, should support staff get a raise in these latest negotiations.
“I’m not going to speculate on that,” Fassbender said on Tuesday.
He did say the goal is to avoid any job action.
“We all want to avoid disruption to schools,” said Fassbender.
He said they are going to look at finding financial solutions when they meet next week.
“But there is a relationship with the local school boards that needs to be recognized here, too.”
One of the concerns voiced by support staff is that they have seen their hours cut, in addition to a loss of hours with the extended spring break.
Creating a two-week spring break saves the district money.
The province requires school boards to carry a balanced budget each year.