School board to enter negotiations over spring break

By Jill Sperling
March 14, 2017 - 3:00pm Updated: March 14, 2017 - 5:40pm

KAMLOOPS — The Kamloops-Thompson school board will be entering negotiations with teachers and CUPE support staff to decide once and for all whether there will be a one week spring break or two.

Currently, teachers and students get two weeks off during the March break, but that is only on a trial basis.

At Monday evening's Board of Education meeting school trustees voted 6-3 in favour or reverting to a one week break, but it is not a permanent solution.

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"At this point we will be filing with the ministry a one week spring break for the next three years," said Board Chair Meghan Wade. "We do have the power to amend that, depending upon the negotiations."    

The one week break is in accordance with language in the school district's current local collective agreements with the Kamloops Thompson Teachers' Association and CUPE Local 3500. A Letter of Understanding was put in place for the purpose of a three year trial period of a two week break, but that letter expires at the end of June.

"We respected the collective agreement," Wade said. "We're going back to what the collective agreement said, and then we will follow the process to open up that collective agreement and negotiate for a two week spring break."

After asking for public input on the length of spring break, the school district received nearly 700 responses from teachers, parents, and the general public. Of those, 75 per cent wanted the two week break to continue. 

CFJC conducted its own poll in February, receiving more than 1,700 votes, with 71 per cent of respondents in favour of the two week break. 

Acting president of CUPE Local 3500 Nicole Edmondson said her union is divided on the issue.

"Some of our members are for it, some of our members are not," Edmondson said. "Basically at the end of the day we just want to make sure whatever decision is made that our members don't lose out financially." 

KTTA President David Komljenovic doesn't feel a decision was made, and feels that of the options trustees had in front of them the one they chose was the most disruptive.

"It creates uncertainty, and what we have is a non-decision," Komljenovic said. "It throws it back to the employee groups to negotiate, basically to try to provide a solution for the district, when really they're the ones that should be stepping up and showing leadership." 

Negotiations are set to begin after spring break. 

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