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.

Check-In, Monday, April 29th

Good morning, County. Happy Monday!

Mostly informational items to pass along today. To start with, the nominations for this year’s Inspire awards are now open. These awards are available to any County member who has gone above and beyond in any capacity at your school, whether it be in teaching, school/community involvement, or service to the NSTU. Winners will have a write up posted in a local community paper of their choice, and nominations are open on an ongoing basis. To find out more, simply email me at halifaxcountylocal@nstu.ca.

Don’t forget that ticket sales are well underway for this year’s retirement brunch which will be held on June 9th at the Prince George Hotel. Retirees will receive two tickets, and be presented with a small token of our appreciation at the event. If you wish to purchase tickets, please e-mail hfxcowellness@nstu.ca.

Tonight at the office on Joseph Howe will be the final in a series of Economic Welfare sessions that have been presented this month, this one on how to navigate maternity/parental/adoption leave for members. The session starts at 4:30 pm, and to register, members simply have to email kebutler@nstu.ca.

Finally, the spring meeting of the Metro Teacher’s GSA will be held at The Youth Project, 2281 Brunswick Street from 5:00pm until 7:00pm. Please email djblinn@nstu.ca to register.

That’s it for this week County. Have a great week, and I will see many of you at this week-ends annual council.

Check-In, Tuesday, April 23rd

Good morning County! Happy Tuesday!

A few points of information for this morning. To start with, for all of you who are looking to find out more information about how to secure a contract with the HRCE, there will be an information session on the ins and outs of securing a contract this Thursday from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm at the Tom Parker Building, 3106 Joseph Howe Drive. This is meant for any metro teacher who wishes to understand the contract process. To register, please contact Leon Swinkels via e-mail at lwswinkels@nstu.ca.

Second, if you are a delegate for Annual Council, there is a meeting tomorrow evening at the Sackville Legion starting at 5:00 pm. We will be reviewing resolutions as well as going over some of the basics of what to expect at Annual Council. If you are unable to attend, please advise either myself or Jason Jennings at hfxconominations@nstu.ca.

Next, some exciting news for many of you in that we are well into the organizing stages of this year’s retirement brunch, which will be held at the Prince George Hotel on Sunday, June 9th. Doors open at 11:30 with the meal beginning at 12:00. Retirees are welcome to attend with one guest, (free of charge of course) and for the rest of us, tickets are $30.00. For more information e-mail hfxcowellness@nstu.ca. The next opportunity to purchase tickets will be on Wednesday, May 8th at the local meeting.

Finally, please don’t forget that if you have a student graduating from public school this year and you are a Halifax County local member, your child may apply for a bursary from the local. Click on the link on the right hand side of this page to be taken to the application form.

That is it for this week County. I will be coming around this week to drop off invitations to retirees, so I will hopefully have a chance to chat with some of you over the next few days.

Have a great (albeit shortened) week.

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Check-In, Monday, April 15

Good morning County! Happy Monday, and happy Education Week!

I want to start today with a reminder that the first opportunity to purchase retirement brunch tickets will be this Wednesday at our local meeting. Tickets are free for the retiree and one guest, and $30.00 each for friends and family. The brunch is being held at the Prince George Hotel, 1725 Market Street in Halifax. The doors open at 11:30 with brunch set to start at noon. Please note that due to a booking error, our meeting this week is being held at the Knox United Church, 657 Sackville Drive, at our regular 6pm start time.

I would also like to take a moment of personal privilege to congratulate this year’s Halifax County Local Service Award Winners. They are Bill Penney from Sir. John A. MacDonald, Kelly Osborne-Barteaux from Auburn and Jim King, who retired last year from a staff officer position with the NSTU. These great educators will be honoured at a special luncheon at the year’s Annual Council.

Another important awards ceremony actually taking place today, and that is the Education week awards. We are very pleased to announce that Trish Cuvelier from East St. Margarets Elementary is the Halifax County recipient this year, in which the theme was Inclusive Education – Helping our Students and Children Succeed. Congratulations, Trish, and thanks for all the great things that you do!

Today also marks the kick off to this year’s Halifax County Inspire Awards. These awards are designed to give teachers a chance to nominate a Halifax County Local member in their building who goes above and beyond for their colleagues, their kids or their community. This year, winners will receive a plaque which will be presented at our AGM in June, and will have a picture and a write up placed in their school’s community newspaper. If you know someone who is deserving of a nod of thanks, email halifaxcountylocal@nstu.ca for a nomination form.

That’s it for today County. Have a great week.

Check-In, Monday, April 8th

Hello there County! Happy Monday.

I want to start off today with a nod to our awesome Social Wellness committee for a great job in organizing the past Saturday’s movie morning for Halifax County. We had a great turn out and the free pop-corn was very much appreciated! The committee would also like to thank those members who could not attend for informing the committee in advance. That was very much appreciated!

Speaking of the Social Wellness committee, it is that time of year again when the preparations are being finalized for our annual retirement event. This year we will be hosting another wonderful brunch at the Prince George Hotel on June 9th. The doors will open at 11:30 am for a noon start, and if the meal last year was any indication, retirees and their guests are in for a real treat.

The first round of tickets will be available at our rep meeting on WEDNESDAY, APRIL 17th!

We will be sending out order forms to the reps a bit later on this week, as well as publishing a list of retirees. Please note that if you are a retiree and do not wish your name to be released, please indicate this by sending a quick e-mail to hfxcowellness@nstu.ca.

I have been fielding a great number of questions about the Halifax County Local graduate bursary, and I am pleased to announce that the application process is now open. If you are a Halifax County Local member and have a child graduating high school, please click on this link to be taken to the application form.

Finally, I had the chance to attend the Local President’s Conference this past Friday held at the Dr. Tom Parker Building on Joseph Howe Drive. We had a chance as local Presidents to participate in a round table forum where we discussed issues that were prevalent in our respective locals. Some particularly hot button topics were teacher morale, the new role of PSAANS, and teacher safety in the classroom. Saturday saw a presentation from Karen Hudson, President of the Black Educators Association, which was reportedly very well received. I was unable to attend because of the County Movie Morning, but by all accounts her presentation was engaging and very educational. Kudos to NSTU President Paul Wozney for arranging to have Ms. Hudson attend.

That is it for this week, County. Have a great one and reach out if you have any questions or concerns.

Check-In, Monday, April 1st

Good Morning County, happy April Fool’s Day.

I want to start off today with the announcement that most of you received on Friday about retired teachers. In an effort to help curb the sub-crises, retired teachers can now work 99.5 days, as opposed to the traditional 69.5. This change is effective today, and will extend into the 2019-2020 school year. This move will hopefully relieve some of the pressure being felt by teachers and, with some luck, reduce the number of classes you are being asked to cover.

It is also that time of year when teachers are looking forward to next year and thinking about what they would like to teach. Please note that under your new collective agreement, Principals are expected to consider your requests when making up your notice of assignment. As well, if your notice of assignment changes significantly, or if you feel your requests were not considered, you may now ask for the reason in writing from your administration. Teachers are encouraged to clearly indicate their preferences for their NOA to their admin team, and have conversations early in the process about those preferences. Please note that this does not mean that your NOA can not change, but rather that a rationale must be provided upon request.

It has come to my attention that there is still a great deal of confusion swirling around the running records issue. With as much clarity as I can muster, I will reiterate that teachers can not be required to do running records with their students unless they are provided with a substitute. They can also not be required to submit data specific to running records unless: 1) they have been provided with the substitute days to do the records in the first place, or 2) they have chosen to do the running records as a professional preference.

If you have any communication from your admin that seems to indicate otherwise, please forward it to me and I will get clarification.

Finally, we have a few upcoming sessions that may be of interest to our members. On April 25th, there will be an information session for teachers who want to find out more about the ins and outs of securing a contract with the HRCE. On April 29th, new (or soon to be new) parents are welcome to attend an information session on parental leave and benefits. Click on the links to find out more.

That’s it for this week, County. Please reach out if you have any questions or concerns, and consider inviting me by for a lunch-hour/ after school visit.

Check-In, Monday,March 25th.

Good Morning County, and welcome back. I hope that you had a wonderful and restful March break.

A few items on the agenda today, but mostly informational. First, just a quick reminder of the voting for our Provincial Executive position is coming up this Thursday, March 28th. Reps, please ensure that you have sufficient voting cards, and please remember that your administrators are not eligible to cast a ballot. Subs may vote if they are working in your school that day. If you have any questions, e-mail me or hfxconominations@nstu.ca. If you would like to find out more about the candidates, simply click the links directly to the right of this post.

Speaking of elections, I want to take the opportunity to congratulate our newest executive member, Desirée Daniele on being acclaimed in the position of our Equity and Reps chair. She will fill this seat on a temporary basis, and we are very much looking forward to having her as part of our team.

For those of you who may be closing in on the professional finish line, the NSTU will be hosting a session for retiring teachers on Tuesday, April 2nd at the main NSTU office on Joe Howe drive. Please click this link to find out more information.

If you have any interest in getting involved in your NSTU at a higher level, applications are now open for spots on a variety of Provincial NSTU committees. This is a great opportunity to network with other members from all over the Province and to bring your own unique voice to a variety of NSTU issues and events. Please click here to find out more.

On a final note, the movie is completely booked. Please let us know if you can not make it by e-mailing hfxcowellness@nstu.ca.

That’s it for today, all. Have a great week!

Check-In, Monday, March 11

Good Morning, County. Hard to believe we are on the verge of our March Break.

Mostly informational items to pass along today. Please remember to vote on Wednesday, March 13th (this Wednesday) on the Regional Tentative Agreement. If your school does not its package yet, do not worry, I will be delivering the final few today. Reps, please make sure you have enough voting cards for your school.

Speaking of voting, I am very excited to introduce you to the three candidates vying for our Provincial Executive Position. They are Terry Ryan, Paul Boudreau and Andrew Fournier. Voting for that position will take place on Thursday, March 28th. The three candidates will be addressing the members at the the meeting this Wednesday, as well as having a chance to answer some questions, time permitting. I would encourage all members to reach out to the candidates prior to the 28th to ask about their various platforms.

As well, we have a temporary position that has opened up at the local executive level for a member at large position for equity and reps. This position is to fill out the rest of a term, and will be filled at the meeting on Wednesday night as well. If you are interested, please contact hfxconominations@nstu.ca.

Don’t forget about the three information sessions that are coming up next month. The first is a retirement information session on April 2nd, the second is a term teacher contract session on April 25th, and the final one is a maternity & parental information session on April 29th. Please check the NSTU bulletin board in your staff room for more information, or click on the links provided.

And, finally, the Social Wellness committee is pleased to announce that they will be hosting a movie night on April 6th, at the Dartmouth Cineplex. The movie is Captain Marvel, and tickets are available for members and their families. Doors open at 9:30 am for a 10:00 am showtime. Please note that the tickets are limited, and the movie is already half filled. (Click here)

That’s it for today, County. Have a great week, and I will see you all back here after a well deserved March Break.

Check-In, Tuesday, March 5

Good Morning County! I hope that you had a chance to get caught up on some marking and preparation during yesterday’s storm day!

To start with, just a quick word that the regional bargaining team has reached a deal in principle with the HRCE on the regional contract. This contract covers such things as how contracts are awarded, teacher placement process, and various types of leave. We will be holding two information sessions on Wednesday, March 6th (tomorrow), one at the main NSTU building on Joseph Howe Drive at 4:30 pm and one at Auburn Drive High School at 7:00 pm. Teachers can feel free to attend either session (or both, should they choose) to hear the details of this contract. The ratification vote will be held on Wednesday, March 13th. All members are encouraged to attend.

Speaking of voting, we have three candidates who will be vying for the honour of representing Halifax County at the Provincial Executive table. This will be a two year position, and will begin on August 1st, 2019. Obviously, with provincial contract negotiations on the horizon, this position is one of tremendous importance. The campaign has officially opened, and I would like to thank Andrew Fournier, Terry Ryan and Paul Boudreau for putting their names forward. We will be publishing a brief “candidate bio” next week for each of these individuals, and they will be speaking at the next local meeting on March 13th, with an election date of March 28th. Good luck to all.

As well, we have a temporary position that has opened up at the local executive level for a member at large position for equity and reps. This position is to fill out the rest of a term, and would be a great way for individuals to “test the waters” of a local executive position. If you are interested, please contact hfxconominations@nstu.ca.

There is still time for members of the local to nominate a deserving Halifax County Local member for the local service award. This award is given out each year at Annual Council to members who have provided leadership and service at the local level to education, the teaching profession, or to the local itself. If you wish to put someone forward for consideration, simply send an email to halifaxcountylocal@nstu.ca to find out more.

There are three upcoming information sessions of which I want to make you aware. The first is a Retirement information session on April 2nd, the second is a term teacher contract session on April 25th, and the final one is a maternity & parental information session on April 29th. Please check the NSTU bulletin board in your staff room for more information, or click on the links provided.

And, finally, the Social Wellness committee is pleased to announce that they will be hosting a movie night on April 6th, at the Dartmouth Cineplex. The movie is Captain Marvel, and tickets are available for members and their families. Doors open at 9:30 am for a 10:00 am showtime. Please note that the tickets are limited, so if you could make sure you can attend prior to reserving seats that would be great. As well, if for some reason your plans change, please let us know. (Click here)

That’s it for today County! Have a good one.