Appeal court stays order to reorganize schools

Education minister says there will be a "stable environment" for schools next fall while the court battle with teachers drags on

Education Minister Peter Fassbender

The B.C. Court of Appeal has suspended a lower court ruling that would force B.C.’s school districts to reorganize around teacher contract terms that were scrapped by the government in 2002.

Education Minister Peter Fassbender said the latest turn in the long-running legal battle with the B.C. Teachers’ Federation allows stability for parents and students while negotiations continue on class size, special needs support and other issues.

The decision provides a “stable environment” for the 60 school districts to prepare for next September under existing arrangements, he said.

“We need to now get back to the table and see if we can find that sweet spot between both parties where we have a negotiated settlement,” Fassbender said.

Those negotiations, to replace an imposed contract that expired last June, are scheduled to continue next week as BCTF members take a strike vote.

The appeal court decision, released Wednesday, allows the government to pursue its appeal of a January ruling that it argued would cause major disruption to schools, which will likely take several months.

In January, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Susan Griffin found for a second time that B.C. legislation imposing contract terms violated teachers’ right to collective bargaining.

In his decision, Justice David Harris agreed with submissions from district superintendents around the province.

“The evidence demonstrates that the immediate reinsertion of the deleted terms into the collective agreement will probably lead to a dislocation of current planning and budgeting or the next school year, immense challenges in hiring sufficient suitably qualified staff, lay-offs of employees, change to available school programs, cancelling school programs, creating more classes, moving students to other schools, disrupting programs for special needs students, the provision of additional classroom space (likely through the addition of portables where space permits), and the breaking of contracts with community groups who use school space for their activities as school districts reclaim the needed space to accommodate additional classes,” Harris wrote.

BCTF lawyers had argued that the 2002 rules could have been reinstated in time for the September 2014 school year. Harris said it would be unlikely the appeal of constitutional arguments would be complete by then, and if it is successful, the school system would have to be made over again.


Just Posted

Rossland Public Library receives over $80,000 toward renewal project

The library has received a second grant worth over $80,000 towards its renewal project.

Rossland Council approves rezoning for two new developments at Red

Rossland City Council approved two bylaws regarding new developments out at Red Mountain.

Rossland Citizen Budget results are in

The results from Citizen Budget were released to the public at the end of last month.

Quiet start to 2018 for South Columbia Search and Rescue

South Columbia members are focusing on updating training

Updated: Kootenay communities benefit from gas tax dollars

The project is one of 112 approved in B.C. communities this year

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Anti-pipeline protestors block Kinder Morgan tanker near Seattle

Protest was spurred on by the 28 anti-Kinder Morgan activists arrested in Burnaby

Some surprises in new book about B.C. labour movement

“On the Line” charts history of the union movement back to the 1800s

B.C. cyclist races to first win of the season in New Zealand

Casey Brown captures Enduro title by more than two minutes at Crankworx Rotorua

Notorious Russian troll farm also took swipes at Canadian targets

Targets included oil infrastructure and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Cirque du Soleil aerialist dies after fall during Florida show

Longtime performer fell while performing in VOLTA

Canada earns second Paralympic Games silver in 20 years

Held 1-0 lead in para hockey game from 12:06 of first to dying seconds of third and lost in overtime

LETTERS: Two views of oil pipeline protests

U.S. and other petroleum-rich countries aren’t cutting production

Canadian Paralympic team picked up record 28 medals

The 55 athletes strong had set a cautious goal of 17 medals for PyeongChang

Most Read