Teachers from across the province voted today to ratify the proposed agreement with the provincial government and end the strike. 31,741 ballots were cast with 27,275 or 86 per cent voting “YES” and 4,392 or 14 per cent voting “NO.”
In a press conference this evening, BCTF president Jim Iker confirmed that students will return to school on Monday.
Since rotating strikes began in May and evolved into a full-scale strike in June, students have lost more than a month of classroom time between both school years.
As of this year, students have already missed three weeks of school. However, Iker says the current school year will not be extended to make up for lost classroom time.
On Tuesday, the BCTF and provincial government reached an agreement in the early-morning hours after completing a 16 hour negotiation meeting. Shortly after in the day, the BCTF announced it would host a membership vote over ratification on Thursday.
In the agreement, the provincial government offered several hundred new teaching positions annually through a new education fund, a mutual process to address any future court decision, the removal of article E80 on class size and composition, a grievance fund for one-time payment to members, improvements in elementary preparation time, a salary increase of 7.25 per cent over six years, and extended health and dental benefits.
Earlier in the month, the provincial government offered parents and guardians of children ages 12 and under in public school $40 per day beginning on September 2 and extending to and including the day teachers ratify the agreement.
The fund is meant to offer parents a subsidy to cover daycare and tutoring costs throughout the duration of the strike. If all qualifying parents register their children for the program, it will cost taxpayers $12 million per day or $60 million per school week – the same budget allotted to open schools.
Eligible parents and guardians must register their children online in order to receive a cheque payment through the mail. The deadline to register is January 31, 2015: no registrations will be accepted after the deadline.
To register your children for the $40 per day subsidy, click here.
Feature Image: School child via Shutterstock