The Clearview Public Schools board of trustees has expressed concerns regarding Bill 8, ‘Public Education Collective Bargaining Act’, which allows government to be part of the bargaining process.
According to a statement by the board, Clearview division is concerned that Bill 8 leaves out local school boards and local Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) in bargaining teacher contracts.
“Sections 8, 9 and 10 spoke of the provincial government and provincial ATA deciding what they deemed as ‘central’ and ‘local’ matters,” said board chair Cheri Neitz. “Schools boards were left out of this first step of the bargaining, and the Bill spoke of setting up a Teacher Employer Bargaining Association, so-called TEBA, but in the session attended with government employees from Alberta Education, they did not know who would be appointed to TEBA, so the uncertainty of not knowing who or if boards would be involved in TEBA held concern for us.”
Clearview Public Schools has sent a letter to Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, Minister of Education David Eggen, and all MLAs stating their position that local school boards should retain exclusive responsibility for bargaining teacher collective agreements.
“School boards are locally and democratically-elected by Alberta communities and represent the best option to bargain with school teachers,” added Neitz. “This Bill took out the ‘local’ representing our community, parents and students and put in ‘central’ the provincial government.”
Bill 8 was brought to the floor on Nov. 26 and passed quickly on Dec. 8 with amendments.
“The amendments now include school boards in the process of determining local and central matters,” said Neitz. “We are told now that TEBA will comprise of school board and government representatives.”
According to Neitz, Clearview Public Schools trustees are uncertain how it will change the landscape of education in the future as the Bill was passed first without any regulations written to go with it.
“A thorough consultation process with regulations worked out prior to the passing of Bill 8 would have allowed us to better understand the impact it would have on us,” said Neitz. “We now wait for the regulations to be written and then see how that will impact our students.”
According to Neitz, the Bill 8 came out with not enough time to gather quality input from boards.
“Consultations were held a few days after the Bill was released and then it passed within less than a week after that,” said Neitz. “Our board wants to work with the government, but our concern is for our students and how their education will be affected.”
Expressing the voice of the Clearview Public Schools board as a whole, Neitz said, “We have worked well with our local ATA representatives and would like to continue with the good relationship working out what is best for our students, our teachers and all our staff of Clearview Public Schools.”