High school teachers here, and at Fort Frances and Rainy River High Schools, will stage a one-day walk-out this Wednesday (April 27), and will continue the one-day-a-week strikes until further notice.
Atikokan High School – grade 9 to 12 classes – are cancelled for Wednesday, April 27. Grade 7-8 classes are not impacted; they will continue as normal.
Buses will continue operation for elementary students only, and community use of schools will continue as scheduled. (An Atikokan Children’s Entertainment Series show, and an open badminton session for ages 15+, will occur as planned Wednesday evening.)
“Our members are frankly exasperated with the board’s refusal to negotiate and reluctance to address our key issues,” said Kent Kowalski, president of the Rainy River local of OSSTF, the teachers’ union. “Access to work for those who are laid off, the protection of members’ rights in an attendance management program, and respect for our professional judgement, are significant issues that remain on the table despite our best efforts to negotiate.”
The teachers have been without a contract since August, 2014. Eleven days of negotiation, including one with a mediator, have failed to resolve the local differences.
The OSSTF, the province, and school board reps reached a provincial settlement on the major compensation issues last year. The Rainy River District School Board is one of just three in Ontario that has yet to reach a settlement with its teachers on the local issues.
Those “local issues… while important, should not have resulted in prolonged job action that directly affects our secondary students, especially when almost every other secondary school student and teacher in the province is enjoying a truly normal school year,” said school board chair Dianne McCormack. “If parents, students, taxpayers and our teachers are wondering why that is the case, we want to be very clear about our position: we want a deal, and OSSTF local needs to be at the table for that to happen.”
“Students are encouraged to continue their learning through self-directed study, continuing to prepare for their exams or assignments as under normal circumstances,” said the board in a release Monday.