Check-In, Tuesday, September 3rd

Good Morning County! Welcome back!

First off, thanks to everyone who joined up for the annual Labour Day march and rally! It was great to see everyone and to join with so many pro-labour groups to mark the day. If you have been following any of the events of this summer, you are aware that in BC, Alberta and Ontario teachers are facing continued adversity from governments of all political stripes. Yesterday was a great reminder that together we are stronger! Check out our Facebook page for some great pics! Read more

Check-In, June 24th, 2019

Well folks, that is pretty much a wrap.

2018-19 was unique for a few reasons. We had a new system of educational governance in our province, a new NSTU president, and, of course, our first year without principals as part of our union.

The year certainly presented some rather unique challenges for your local president, to be sure. These including the pressures around the tripartite agreement, the rather intense negotiations that happened at the regional level in order to finally secure a regional agreement, and the introduction of the newly minted phrase “unscheduled instructional time” (although the pressure felt by me around that last one kind of pales in comparison to the rest of you.) Read more

Check-In, Monday June 17th

Hey there County! Happy Monday!

As the end of year mayhem and bustle ramp up for teachers, things are, oddly enough, starting to quiet down at the office.

The biggest portion of my time last week was spent preparing for and answering questions about the Teacher Placement Process. That event took place on Saturday and saw hundreds of teachers securing positions for next year. Although the day can certainly be stressful, the process went quite well this year, with very few bumps in the road. Thanks to the Human Resources team from HRCE for doing a great job, and congratulations to all the teachers who were able to secure jobs for the 2019-2020 school year. Read more

Check-In, Monday, June 10th

Hey there, County! Happy Monday!

I want to start with a particular shout out to all the retirees who managed to make it through the down-town-Bluenose-Marathon congestion yesterday to attend the retirement brunch. It was a lovely meal and the sun deck was absolutely lovely. Thank you to the Social Wellness committee for another great retirement function, and a special thank you to former NSTU local executive member, former NSTU staff officer, and former Teacher with Administrative Responsibility Jim King for his inspiring words. Check out our Facebook page for lots of great photos. Read more

Check-In, Monday June 3rd

Good morning County! Happy Monday!

Not much in the wind this week, as most of last week was taken up with the new contract information sessions. Please note that the asking packages will be available at our Annual General Meeting this Wednesday for schools who have not yet received them.

Speaking of the AGM, this year’s will feature a number of elections for local executive positions, as well as what is usually a fairly robust discussion about our budget for next year. All members are welcome to attend at the Calais Legion in Lower Sackville. 6:00 pm for a 6:30 pm start. Read more

Check-In, Monday, May 27th

Good morning County! Happy June almost!

Last week the majority of my time was taken up with staffing questions, with people concerned about perhaps being passed over for positions due to qualification issues. 

I just want to remind members that it is hugely important that you keep your online resume up to date, particularly when it comes to experiential qualifications. The HR department can only go by the information they have on hand when determining qualifications. If you do not indicate on myHRCE that you have taught under-water basket weaving for the past three years they will not know you are qualified. Read more

Check-In, May 21st

Good Morning County! I hope you had a great, albeit soggy, long weekend.

By now I am sure you are all aware of the conflict that has emerged between the NSTU and the government around funding of schools for next year. Your local presidents did get an opportunity to meet with representatives of HRCE’s senior management team last week, and were told that during the year there have been consultations with principals and senior staff around how schools are funded. 

Guidance

HRCE had a focus group going on this year (that we did not know about) that was asked about guidance delivery in HRCE. That group, which included some guidance counselors, determined that the HRCE should meet its 1:500 ration, and that all kids in HRCE should have access to guidance. The HRCE has now met this obligation in all schools, but this has resulted in some reductions at schools which may have been “overstaffed” (if there is such a thing) in guidance. 

ELS/Reading recovery

The move from ELS back to reading recovery has been a promise of the government since they took office. We have been told that this change from ELS to R/R in some schools is just part of this trend. We could not determine if this is going to continue, as these decisions are now made at the provincial level.

Specialist allocations

These were determined as a .3 specialist for every classroom in a school. If a school had more than 15 classrooms, that ratio dropped to .25. This means that some schools will see allocation decreases. 

Resource/ Learning Center

The HRCE said this would remain needs driven, but allowed principals to play with the allocation. So if a principal got 1.5 Resource and 1.5 L/C, they could decide to go 2 and 1.

O2

We are still trying to work out the O2 budgeting issue. As we see it, schools used to get $2500.00 from the DoEECD to spend on O2, and a top up from the HRCE of about $5500.00. This money was ear marked of O2. The way we understand it is that now the extra funding will still go to the schools, but that principals will have more discretion on how it is spent. As far as the staffing allocations are concerned, it is our understanding that those reductions were made at the HRCE level, where HRCE used to provide a .7 top up in allocations but has determined that will change going forward. 

The recent comments by Zach Churchill of school funding changes seem to indicate that this has been in the works for awhile now, and this may be why HRCE has seen such turmoil. However, we have no way of knowing if this is the case.

As well, we have been told that the budgeting process will last at least a few more weeks, so things may still move a bit between now and June. 

I wish that I could provide more clarity, but we have not been consulted on any of these changes, and received an explanation only last Tuesday. If you have any questions, e-mail them to me directly at halifaxcountylocal@nstu.ca.

Now, onto other business.

The deadline for purchasing tickets for the retirement brunch is fast approaching! If you wish to purchase tickets, you have until May 31st to send your RSVP to hfxcowellness@nstu.ca. Tickets are available at the office in Burnside, and you will be able to buy them until June 3rd. Please call (902) 499-0933 to ensure that I am in the office before you drop by. My usual office hours are from 8:00 am to 3:30 pm, but I do get called away from time to time.

Finally, we are still taking applications for any number of our local committees. The deadline for applications is tomorrow! This a great way for you to “get your feet wet” in the workings of our union. Click on any one of the links to the right of this page to find out more.

That’s it for this week, County. Have a great one.

PS: Don’t forget this year’s inspire award. E-mail halifaxcountylocal@nstu.ca for information and a nomination form 🙂

 

Check-In, May 13th, 2019

Good morning County! Happy Monday.

Last week certainly got interesting very quickly with the back and forth between the NSTU and the government about funding allocations for schools. Between ELS cuts, and guidance reallocations  and O2 budgets, it was certainly hard to keep up. There was an adamant denial from the government that there had been cuts, but the e-mails that I received certainly told a very different tale.

A special Management/Teacher meeting has been scheduled for tomorrow, and we hope to have a better picture of what has been happening once we have a chance to sit with HRCE. I will try to send out something on Wednesday morning if I feel it can provide any clarity to the current situation.

Wednesday is also when teachers will be receiving their NOAs from their principals, if they have not already. Please remember that under the terms of the new contract, your principal can be required to provide reasons in writing should there be a significant change in your NOA for next year. As well, principals are expected to have considered your requests when determining NOAs.

Now, on a lighter note, please be aware that the next offering of retirement tickets will be today at Madeline Symonds Middle School from 2 – 5 pm. If you wish to purchase you can do so at this time, or email hfxcowellness@nstu.ca to find out more. Please note that the cut off date is fast approaching. This year’s event will be a brunch held at the Prince George Hotel on June 9th starting at 11:30am.

As well, there is one final Halifax County Social event that is open to all members set for Thursday June 6th from 4 – 6 pm at Patron’s Lounge on Larry Utek. Come and join us for some light snacks and some fun.

Finally, please remember that there are several ways for you to get involved in your local. Whether you want to volunteer for a position on the executive, or are perhaps interested in joining a committee, there are a number of positions open for next year. Check out the links on teh right of this page for more details.

That’s it for this week County. Have a great one.

 

Check-In, Monday, May 6

Hello County. Happy Monday.

This weekend saw approximately 45 County members attend the 98th NSTU Annual Council.

Annual Council is a meeting which is held annually (ergo the name) where decisions are made about everything from NSTU policy to what to ask for in our contract. This year’s council saw a great deal of focus, not surprisingly, on budgetary concerns and on the upcoming negotiations. With the departure of the Community College membership and the removal of the administrators, the organization was facing a fairly significant financial shortfall. At the same time, although there was some tentative optimism about the impending contract negotiations, this was tempered with a recognition that, considering recent events, the NSTU would need to be prepared for any eventuality. Having our finances in order is a major part of that preparation.

To that end, to maintain services to members, and to make sure we maintain some fairly strategic alliances, a vote was passed which will see membership dues increase starting in August. The central NSTU office is preparing a communication for members to explain some of the ins and outs of the increase which should be out within a few days.

I do want to take a moment to thank all the delegates from County who gave up their weekend to lock themselves in a room with about 240 other teachers from all across the province to debate and discuss the issues of the day. As well, a special thanks to the local executive committees for all their work, particularly the nominations committee and the social-wellness committee. The event essentially went off without a hitch, and it was in large part thanks to their hard work.

Outside of Annual Council, there have been a few recent developments that have been taking up a great deal of time. To start with, it came to our attention only last week that there were some changes at the junior high level around how classes are being scheduled, in particular Phys Ed and Healthy Living. The HRCE has informed us that this decision was made in order to provide some consistency across schools, as there was none prior to this decision in how much time was dedicated to these subjects. If this change is causing undue stress or strain at your site, please send me an e-mail to provide some details.

As well, there has been a rather sudden expression of concern on Social Media about potential changes to guidance allocations and early literacy support. As of publishing time, we have received nothing in the way of a confirmation that changes are coming, but we have sent a request on to the HRCE for details. If your school is losing positions or if your allocations are changing, please contact me via e-mail with the details.

Finally, we do have a number of positions open on committees and on our local executive. Committees are a great way for members to get a feel for what the NSTU is all about and some of the many services we provide. For those looking to take on a greater commitment (or to take the next step on their NSTU journey) the local executive table is a fantastic experience. I encourage anyone who is interested to have a look at the forms posted on this page, and let me know if you want to find out anything about the role.

That’s it for today, County. Have a great 1st full week of May.