‘It is a teacher’s de­ci­sion’

Fu­ture of ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties un­cer­tain


It will be up to Nova Sco­tia teach­ers to de­cide whether they par­tic­i­pate in ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties as they ad­just to a con­tract im­posed on them through leg­is­la­tion, Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Karen Casey said Wed­nes­day.

Casey said the prov­ince’s 9,300 pub­lic school teach­ers are in a tran­si­tion pe­riod now that their work-to-rule job ac­tion was halted by a con­tract im­posed Tues­day by the Lib­eral gov­ern­ment, which ended a 16-month con­tract dis­pute.

Casey said she thinks many teach­ers want to get back to help­ing with ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties, but it will be up to them to de­cide whether to vol­un­teer their time for ac­tiv­i­ties that are not part of the con­tract.

“What I’m hear­ing from high school stu­dents is that (ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties) are very much a part of the char­ac­ter and the spirit of the school. They miss those things and I’m sure that stu­dents are en­cour­ag­ing their teach­ers to con­tinue that,’’ said Casey fol­low­ing a cab­i­net meet­ing.

“But it is a teacher’s de­ci­sion and we’ll have to wait to see how many con­tinue do­ing that.’’

The union did not re­turn a re­quest for com­ment Wed­nes­day.

The Lib­er­als used their ma­jor­ity to ram through Bill 75, which sparked rowdy protests out­side of Prov­ince House by teach­ers who said it in­fringed on their con­sti­tu­tional right to ne­go­ti­ate a col­lec­tive agree­ment.

Teach­ers held a one-day strike last Fri­day in protest of the leg­is­la­tion, say­ing it doesn’t pro­vide the help they need in the class­room. It was the first time in the Nova Sco­tia Teach­ers’ Union’s 122-year his­tory that mem­bers had walked off the job.

The union is­sued a news re­lease Wed­nes­day de­nounc­ing the gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to put the $3.4 mil­lion saved on strike day to­ward one-time grants for ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties that fall out­side of the in­struc­tional day.

“Teach­ers, stu­dents and par­ents who have been fight­ing for bet­ter ed­u­ca­tion want to know why the premier chose not to use this money to re­duce class sizes or pro­vide greater sup­port for stu­dents with spe­cial needs,’’ said union pres­i­dent Li­ette Doucet.

“This de­ci­sion does noth­ing to ad­dress the sig­nif­i­cant prob­lems cur­rently fac­ing our sys­tem.’’

The prov­ince also an­nounced de­tails Wed­nes­day on its coun­cil to im­prove class­room con­di­tions.

The Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment says the coun­cil — which will be co-chaired by gov­ern­ment and union rep­re­sen­ta­tives and in­clude nine teach­ers, a par­ent and a stu­dent — will be formed by March 7.

The depart­ment says a fa­cil­i­ta­tor will also work with the com­mit­tee and an ar­bi­tra­tor will be ap­pointed in the event the co-chairs can­not agree on a rec­om­men­da­tion.

Ini­tial rec­om­men­da­tions from the coun­cil, which will get $20 mil­lion over two years, are ex­pected by April 28.


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