Check-In, January 15th, 2017

Hello County! Happy Martin Luther King day.

So, I want to start off today with a bit of clarification.

Last week, I sent out a message that had been distributed by HRSB just before the Holiday break around the leaves. Somehow, it seems, the message has been interpreted that all leaves, even article 60, can be summarily denied because of a shortage of subs. That is simply not case.

To start off with, HRSB announced: All non-mandatory professional development offered by the HRSB will be postponed. The operative phrase there is “offered by HRSB”. In this instance, the employer has decided that the PD they offer to their staff to achieve the various goals of the board needs to be curtailed, for the time being, in order to reduce the need for subs. They are well within their rights to do so. As well, the HRSB has full sway over what they determine as “mandatory”, primarily because it is their PD. Read more

Check-In, January 8th, 2018

Hello County! Welcome Back.

That was certainly an interesting start to 2018. Here’s hoping that you managed ok in the power outages.

Just before the break, a message was sent out to principals from HRSB in regards to the sub-shortage and a series of steps that HRSB was undertaking to help alleviate the problem. These steps included:

  • All non-mandatory professional development offered by the HRSB will be postponed.  We will continue limited PD which is mandatory such as WHMIS, First Aid, etc.;
  • Grade level restrictions on AESOP will be lifted. Principals can hire substitutes to teach at any grade level;
  • The use of substitutes to provide PLC time will be discontinued;
  • Unpaid leave will only be approved for exceptional circumstances and if operationally feasible. This will continue to be at the Principal’s discretion;
  • Unpaid leaves tied to Article 60 conference grants will not be approved. Teachers are eligible for up to three (3) days per conference and must have pre-approval from the Principal, in accordance with the Article 60 Guidelines;
  • Continue to not fill vacant positions at Central Office requiring an NSTU licence unless operationally required Read more

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. Read more

Check-in, December 4th, 2017

Good Morning County! Welcome to December!

We start off today with some news from the Provincial body. I was able to attend Friday’s Provincial Executive meeting as an observer and there was a great deal of discussion around the substitute teacher shortage, particularly as it pertains to us here in metro. What we are experiencing here “in town” is nothing new; rather simply new to us. Many of the more rural boards, and certainly many of our own rural schools, are very familiar with the issue of not having enough qualified substitute teachers. Hopefully I will have some more information to share with you on this issue before too much longer. Read more

Check-in, November 27th, 2017

Good morning County! Happy Monday!

Wow! Can you believe this is the last Check-in for November. Amazing that there are only 19 days until the Holiday break.

I’d like to start off this week with a word on teaching standards. The NSTU is trying to get information from teachers on the upcoming release of the new Teaching Standards for Nova Scotia. These standards are being developed by the DoEECD in consultation with the NSTU and will soon become “the law of the land” as it were. These standards could then potentially be used in everything from official job descriptions to teacher evaluation tools to becoming embedded in professional growth plans. Read more

Check-in, November 20th, 2017

Hi County! Happy Monday.

Let’s start off with another huge shout-out to members of the Social Wellness committee for all their hard work organizing the Thor-Ragnarock movie event. I had an opportunity to speak with a number of teachers who attended and, as always, it was very well received. Thanks to the whole team for all their great work on the event.

Read more

Check-in, November 14th, 2017

Good morning County.

Two feel good pieces to start off your week. First off, we have started distributing gift cards from the Elementary Teacher’s Federation of Ontario, and have managed to get them out to a number of schools through the reps. These cards were originally designated to be put towards a teacher luncheon on Teacher Appreciation Day in October, but we were unable to distribute them in time. If your school has not yet received your gift cards, they will be mailed out this week, and, if you are willing and able, drop us a quick line as to how they will be used. I would love to have that information (and maybe some pictures) for my next monthly report. Read more

Check-in, October 30th, 2017

Good morning County. Happy Monday!

I hope many of you had a chance to partake in the Professional Association PD day on Friday. If you did, the appropriate reimbursement form can be found by accessing myhrsb and looking under article 60. The provincial conference day information is right at the top. (

Last week, the substitute shortage hit the airways, and I know that many of you are feeling the pinch. HRSB sent a list out last week to principals of all the efforts they are making in order to secure substitutes, which includes a fairly aggressive recruiting strategy. While we applaud the board’s efforts, we also have a very keen interest in exploring how the board is working to reduce stress levels amongst staff. We all know that stress is a major contributing factor to personal wellness, but there have been a string of announcements that have come out from the HRSB recently that have seemed to only increase stress amongst the members. We are hoping that we can work with HRSB to find ways they can help maintain a healthy workforce, thus reducing the need for substitutes. Read more

Check-In, October 23, 2017

Hello there County! Happy Monday.

A few key issues were burning up my airways last week, and I would like to address a few, as much as I can.

First of all, the new HRSB staff attendance policy, which is actually called the ATTENDANCE SUPPORT POLICY FOR EMPLOYEES does not apply to NSTU members for the 2017-18 school year. I mention this again because I was seeing some concerns expressed this past weekend on social media. This is a program that the HRSB is rolling out  which is, according to the board, meant to be supportive of staff who are missing time. Although we recognize the right of the employer to monitor attendance, we do have some concerns, particularly around member privacy. We are working with the provincial NSTU body on this, and will be monitoring this program closely as it is rolled out across bargaining units. Read more