Kitimat, Terrace Teachers Unions hopeful following public consultation meeting

John Crawford
12/12/2019

[UPDATED:  ADDS COMMENTS FROM SCHOOL DISTRICT]

The co-presidents of the Coast Mountain Teachers Federation are guardedly optimistic, following the first public consultation meeting held by School District 82 last night in Thornhill.

Michael Wen, who is president of the Terrace District Teachers Union, and Kim Meyer, who heads up the Kitimat District Teachers Federation, say the school board has taken small steps to address the recommendations made by consultant Dianne Turner, following non-confidence votes by the teachers last spring and widespread protests over administrator reassignments.

Turner's report makes 12 recommendations, many of which deal with improving communications and the consultation process. 

It also recommends a review of the formal process for compaints to be heard by the board, something Turner says was clearly indicated by members of the community. 

Acting Superintendent Janet Meyer went through the recommendations one by one, and outlined steps the district is taking to address them.

And she insisted that all decisions are made with the best interests of students at the centre.

"Kids ought to be at the centre of everything we do," she said.

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Wen says there's still much to do, but last night's meeting was a positive first step.

"There's evidence that they're looking at the recommendations made by Dianne Turner and they're trying to affect a change in this district, hopefully a positive change," said Wen, adding the jury's still out on that; I think this is more evidence to me that the trustees want a change, CMTF has had a couple of meetings with trustees and they have been speaking about making a change and a positive change."

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[Kim Meyer (Kitimat District Teachers Federation), Michael Wen (Terrace District Teachers Union) at CMSD public consultation meeting in Thornhill Dec 11, 2019 -- Hillary Johnson CFTK]

Kim Meyer was also hopeful, saying "I think there were a lot of good ideas that came forward; I'm a little disappointed there aren't any answers yet so I'm looking forward to those, and I'm looking forward to the action plan that comes out of this and I'm looking forward to future meetings like this one."

But she also didn't feel teachers were really being heard.

"I don't!  I don't, because like I said, I think in order to move forward, you have to acknowledge the past and there are things that have gone on that have not been acknowledged, and so far no one is willing to talk to us."

They both said one of the greatest challenges facing the School District is an acute teachers shortage.

Acting Superintendent Meyer said that's not a situation unique to District 82, and that administration is actively recruiting across the country and beyond.

She also said that she thought the public felt a sense of relief at having their voices heard at last night's meeting.

Board Chair Shar McCrory said it hasn't been decided if there will be another public forum like this in the near future, but says in the meantime, the public can provide feedback through an email address, and that the board will continue to work with partner groups as well as community members and students.

[Reported by Hillary Johnson]

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