Carihi chemistry students meet outside of class time to study for an exam. Photo by Paige Pierce/Carihi Mirror

COLUMNS: A better start to the school year

Parents in rural B.C. have had to cope with the uncertainty caused by wildfires and flooding

For the past couple of years, parents in rural B.C. have had to cope with the uncertainty caused by wildfires and flooding.

With roads washed out and normal routes disrupted, it’s often meant children facing very early mornings and much longer commutes just to make their way into the classroom.

While road repairs are still pending in many parts of the Cariboo, we can be thankful for a light wildfire season and better air quality this year.

Parents can also breathe a sigh of relief that no labour dispute will disrupt the school year, at least for the time being.

B.C. Teacher’s Federation president Teri Mooring has promised that no job action will take place before schools open on September 3rd.

On June 30th, the five-year collective agreement between teachers and government expired and negotiations have so far failed to come up with a new agreement.

Read More: ‘Plenty of time for a deal’: Teachers’ union expects kids back in school on Sept. 3

Right now, teachers in B.C. say they have the second-lowest starting wage in the country. However, the talks are about more than just a wage increase.

As a part of contract negotiations, the BCTF wants to ensure that there are enough certified teachers to fill classrooms in rural and northern parts of the province.

But the real sticking points seem to be the age-old questions of class-size, support for special needs and finding the right number of teacher specialists.

The BCTF has already launched a radio ad campaign that’s very critical of the government even though both parties elected to go into mediated talks.

After years of casting the previous government as the boogeyman, it seems the NDP are just starting to learn their own hard lessons.

For all of you who will be on the road during back-to-school week, please take extra care behind the wheel.

Donna Barnett is the Liberal MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin.

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