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Surrey trustees ticked off

Terry Allen - Leader file photo
Terry Allen
— image credit: Leader file photo

Surrey school trustees are miffed they haven't been properly consulted during teacher bargaining, even though they're be the ones left to deal with any fallout.

The Surrey Board of Education's frustration followed a letter last month from the B.C. Public School Employer's Association (BCPSEA) to the B.C. Teachers' Federation (BCTF), telling the union it would be responsible for funding health and welfare benefits if teachers go on strike. BCPSEA represents school districts in contract talks between the government and the BCTF.

Trustee Terry Allen said while some school boards had an opportunity to take a stance on the issue, Surrey never had a chance to meet or provide any input – which he says runs contrary to BCPSEA's responsibility to consult school boards.

As well, Allen says, it demonstrates that the board has little control over how Surrey's teachers are treated and further erodes the role of trustees.

"This puts us in the ultimate position of being a firewall," said Allen. "We're the ultimate employer, but they (BCPSEA) can dictate what takes place at the bargaining table."

The board voted unanimously last week to express its dismay to the BCPSEA, local MLAs and Minister of Education Peter Fassbender.

If the benefits edict goes ahead, it would cost the BCTF about $5 million per month to cover the benefits for the province's 41,000 teachers.

"There's nothing we can do to turn this back," said Allen. "But they can't continue these draconian measures… and leave us to wear it."

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