Extra-curriculars in public high schools set to resume

In September 2012, students at GDCI and high schools across the province walked out in support of teachers.

In September 2012, students at GDCI and high schools across the province walked out in support of teachers.

Bullet News TORONTO— It appears public high school teachers are getting ready to take part in extra-curricular and voluntary activities again.

Today, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) voted to recommend to its members that they suspend their political action related to sports, drama and other activities outside of the classrooms.

“We expect that this sign of goodwill from our members will prompt the government to have genuine discussions that can lead to a fair resolution to this current impasse,” said Ken Coran, who is OSSTF president, in a press release issued today.

“We still maintain that voluntary activities are just that: voluntary,” he said. “We encourage members to review recent information and decide if they are willing to return to participating in the activities we know they feel so passionately about.”

OSSTF will hold a press conference on Monday, Feb. 25 at 9:30 a.m.

Ted Doherty, who is the director of education for the Avon Maitland District School Board, is happy with today’s announcement.

“We’ve known that the government has been in discussions with the union and with a new premier and a new minister in place there’s been a hopefulness that relationships would improve to the point that we could end this logjam that we’ve been in,” he said.

Doherty said boards and the union have always agreed that extracurriculars are voluntary.

“I believe that there are lots and lots of teachers out there waiting for positive signs like this today,” he said. “I think it was a sign to the membership that things are headed in the right direction with the new government and they wanted to show support to the members who are wanting to get back to extracurriculars but feeling challenged to do so because of the political environment.”

Doherty said the local board will be brought into discussions between the government and the union when talks progress to the point of interpretation and implementation of points in the contract that was imposed earlier this year. The board and the union local were unable to reach an agreement by the midnight Dec. 31 deadline and had a contract imposed by the government under  the controversial Bill 115.

Taylor Lowe is the school president at Goderich Collegiate District Institute. He’s looking forward to teachers going back to extracurriculars, saying it’s been a ‘tricky year’ that involved recruiting volunteers in order to continue some of the activities.

“Ultimately we’ve been able to do a lot of things but having no teachers able to participate – especially when most of them are so anxious to be able to participate again – has made things difficult and having them back would make it so much easier and a lot more fun for everyone,” he said.

Premier Kathleen Wynne issued a press release after today’s vote.

“I’ve been clear that this issue needs to be addressed within Ontario’s existing fiscal framework. But I am confident that our government’s commitment to fairness, consistency and respect in our conversations with OSSTF and all our partners will continue to result in real work being done for the people of Ontario,” Wynne said.

The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, District 8, in the Avon Maitland District, represents approximately 1,600 office, clerical, technical workers, educational assistants, early childhood educators and professional student services staff.

Written by on February 22, 2013 in Communities, Public School - No comments

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