Public school board ratifies teacher deals

The Rainy River District School Board on Tuesday night approved both four-year tentative settlements it had reached with local elementary and secondary teachers’ unions.
Both are retroactive to Sept. 1, 2004.
“Everyone worked hard and co-operatively towards reaching this collective agreement,” said Sharon Preston, president of the local Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario.
“This agreement benefits students, staff, programs, and schools,” she added. “It shows that the RRDSB understands the workload of teachers and it shows respect for local teachers.”
“The new working conditions should allow teachers more time to spend with their own students,” noted Brian Church, president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (District 5B).
“Overall, the membership is pleased with the deal. This round of negotiations was very collegial,” he added.
For local elementary teachers, their collective agreement includes:
•200 minutes of preparation time per week by the end of the four-year agreement;
•a re-opener for salaries if additional funding is provided by the government for salaries;
•salary increases over the four years: two percent in September, 2004, two percent in September, 2005, two percent in September, 2006, one percent in February, 2007, 1.8 percent in September, 2007, and 1.4 percent in February 2008 for a total of 10.64 percent;
•a one-time allowance for each full-time teacher for professional development in an amount defined by the Ministry of Education; and
•enhanced teacher benefits with vision care.
The board called the settlement “an unprecedented four-year collective agreement which allows for uninterrupted focus on student achievement and the board priorities.”
“The 100 percent acceptance of the agreement at our ratification meeting indicates that teachers feel is it a fair and reasonable document,” noted Preston.
“The elementary teachers appreciate the professionalism and openness shown by the board throughout the entire process,” she added.
Included in the collective agreement for local secondary teachers are:
•alternative professional assignments (teachers shall be assigned a maximum of six out of eight periods);
•student success initiative (a secondary staffing committee will meet annually to review and make recommendations regarding the allocation of staff generated from ministry student success initiatives funding);
•a one-time allowance for each full-time teacher for professional development in an amount defined by the Ministry of Education;
•a re-opener for salaries if additional funding is provided by the government for salaries;
•a provision that supervision of students outside their classroom instructional time—in the halls, cafeteria, and exterior of the building—will continue to be carried out by teachers in keeping with the continued commitment to safe and supportive schools;
•salary increases over the four years: two percent in September, 2004, two percent in September, 2005, two percent in September, 2006, one percent in February, 2007, 1.8 percent in September, 2007, and 1.4 percent in February 2008 for a total increase of 10.64 percent; and
•an increase to vision care coverage.
“We managed to discuss many local issues during this round of bargaining and still remain within the government-imposed parameters,” said Church.
The local OSSTF membership had voted 84 percent in favour of the agreement back on May 27.
“Although we were working within ministry framework guidelines in salary increases and term of contract, these were still a number of local issues which were considered vital on both sides of the table,” said trustee Ron McAlister.
“The attitude of openness and mutual trust that pervaded these negotiations from day one spurred the process and enabled us to work through what I believe is a fair and equitable agreement,” he remarked.

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