As the Saanich school district support workers’ strike heads into its third week – keeping more than 8,000 students out of school – some parents are growing concerned about the educational impacts of the unscheduled break – particularly for students on the cusp of graduation.
“Right now we feel that our voices are not being heard,” says Jean Marcoux, whose daughter is in Grade 12 at Claremont Secondary School. “Now [CUPE 441 and SD63] are starting to play the blame game and they don’t want to sit down together…who knows how long this strike is going to take if nobody puts some pressure on.
“The students are the ones who are going to pay for it.”
Marcoux says his daughter wants to work in neurology and needs to have good grades in her science courses to get into post-secondary.
“If [the strike] drags and drags and drags, she won’t be ready, she won’t have studied enough to get the grades to go to university,” he says, adding that he hopes parents can come together to put more pressure on the negotiation.
In a notice released online Tuesday, superintendent of schools Dave Eberwein addresses the strike’s educational impact on students.
He writes: “While the duration of the strike remains undetermined at this time, there is some information that I can share to help alleviate some of the concerns you may have.”
The notice says the strike will not prevent students from graduating or moving to the next grade, but various accommodations will be considered including focusing on core curricular objectives, minimizing or eliminating optional activities like field trips as well as adjusting term, semester and report card dates.
Eberwein says Grade 12 students “will not lose their graduation year or any necessary credits toward post-secondary applications.”
“As post-secondary Institutions rely primarily on final marks when admitting students into programs, our students will receive final marks for all of their courses,” he writes. “Secondary schools will be distributing updates to parent communities regarding assessments, secondary school transcripts, post-secondary information sessions, and any key dates for post-secondary application deadlines.”
CUPE 441 represents Saanich School District (SD63)’s support workers, including educational assistants, technical support staff, library technicians, youth and family counsellors as well as clerical, custodial, grounds, maintenance and transportation support staff.
The local has been on strike since Oct. 28, after failed negotiations surrounding wages reached a stalemate with employer SD63. Members are seeking comparable wages with the region’s counterparts in Sooke and Victoria.
The school district’s latest update, posted online Tuesday, says the employer has tabled an offer that applies the maximum funding available for the current round of bargaining.
“The reality is that the funding allocation for bargaining will not be increased and the Board will not be granted authority to allocate further funds to bargaining regardless of the source of those funds.”
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