Parents of students at Salmon Arm Secondary will be receiving report cards, but they may list only their student’s classes, teachers and attendance.
The Labour Relations Board earlier ruled that preparing and distributing report cards is not an essential service. However, the British Columbia Public Sector Employers’ Association has since requested that the LRB require teachers to prepare them. A ruling on that request had not been made at press time. Because the School Act requires report cards be distributed, whether the reports contain more than just attendance will depend on the ruling, and when it is made.
Dave Witt, district superintendent, said if no ruling is made by Nov. 10, when secondary reports are typically sent out, those reports will be mailed out with minimal information. For elementary and middle schools, the deadline will be closer to the end of the month. If no ruling by then, or if the ruling maintains the status quo, those reports with minimal information will also be mailed rather than sending them home with students.
In a letter to parents, Witt adds, “In North Okanagan-Shuswap School District, we are proud of our dedicated, hard-working teachers and we hope the current job action will come to a mutually beneficial conclusion.”
MLA and Education Minister George Abbott said he’s not about to try to change the School Act to stop the disbursement of report cards.
“Yes, it (the minimal-information report card) is far less fulsome than we would like but perhaps it’s better than nothing.”
He said he’s hopeful an agreement between the province and teachers will be made at the collective bargaining table, but says it’s challenging with the province’s ‘net-zero’ mandate.
Lynda Bennett, president of the North Okanagan-Shuswap Teachers’ Association, said teachers are still communicating with parents, providing better information in many ways than they would get on the ministry-mandated report cards.
“Teachers are making sure parents are informed and kids are informed. If parents have any concerns, they just have to contact the teacher. They would all welcome a phone call.”
She also notes that the province took $275 million out of the education budget in 2002 and has never replaced it. This has meant larger class sizes and fewer supports for students.