Check-in, December 11th, 2017

Hello County! Welcome to the final full week before the Holiday break.

As we make the final turn of 2017, we do have some news on the substitute teacher front. At the December 1st Provincial Executive meeting, the PE accepted a recommendation to approve an agreement regarding Permits to Teach for Substitutes with HRSB and the DoEECD for the 2017-18 school year. The details of what this will look like are still being worked out between the NSTU and the HRSB, but this will hopefully provide some short-term relief for teachers who are having to cover for absent colleagues.

Now, it should be noted that this decision was not taken lightly by the Provincial Executive, nor should it be viewed as a long-term solution. There was a great deal of debate around the implications of this agreement, but considering how many teachers are having their already limited energy taxed by having to cover, something needed to be done. The hope is that these permits will take some of the pressure off until a more long-term solution can be found.

At the regional level, the three local presidents met with HRSB on Friday to discuss this very issue, and to try to find some co-operative solutions. What I found most interesting about that discussion was that many of the suggestions that have been offered by members had already been considered by HRSB. Unfortunately, those same solutions, such as extending the number for days that retired teachers can work or extending the ERIP contracts by another year had, for one reason or another, been found to simply not be possible. I am not sure that I understand all the intricacies involved, but had no reason to doubt that they had been fully examined before being discarded.

We were, however, able to come to agreement on a few strategies that may provide both some short-term and perhaps long-term solutions to the crisis. The details are, again, still being ironed out, but I just wanted to let you know that this has been at the top of my priority list. The lack of substitutes is something that is affecting every Halifax County member, to one extent or another, and is particularly worrisome for any number of reasons. Teachers have been contacting me expressing how they have already been feeling “burned out”, and certainly having to cover classes, on almost a daily basis in some cases, is not helping the situation.

Hopefully, we will have some more information for you before the break, but if not, we should certainly hope to have something a bit more concrete for you early in the New Year.

Finally, I was able to attend the session on inclusion last Wednesday evening at the main NSTU building. The crowd was small, but I put that down to a timing issue. I know many of you had parent teacher that evening, and were unable to attend. The session was hosted by the Commissioner for Inclusive Education, Monica Williams. For what the group lacked in size, it made up for in passion, with many speaking of the challenges facing classroom teachers today. It was of some interest to note that many of the concerns raised by our members are being echoed all across the province. Hopefully, this new commission will be able to address some of these concerns in a manner that is both timely and, ultimately, effective. If you have not yet had a chance to do so, I would encourage you to fill out the survey on the NSTU website to add your voice to the conversation.

That is all for this week, County. Have a great week.



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