Surrey will offer summer school to small group who fit 'essential' designation

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Surrey will offer summer school during the ongoing labour dispute between government and teachers, but only to about 50 students who fit the "extremely narrow definition" of what the Labour Relations Board (LRB) has deemed "essential."

In a letter to parents Thursday, Surrey Supt. Jordan Tinney said the district had delayed its decision on summer school "in order to consider all relevant information."

Surrey normally offers an array of summer programs in July and August for all ages and learning needs, including accelerated, remedial and trades and technical courses. This year, 11,000 students in Kindergarten to Grade 12 were registered.

On June 27, following a request from the provincial government, the LRB ruled that only some aspects of summer school are considered an essential service. The definition was narrowed to students in Grades 10-12 who have failed a course and who have "no choice but to repeat the course" in 2014 summer school and who cannot take the course during the following school year.

For Surrey, that left fewer than 50 students of the thousands who had registered.

Tinney said the district has contacted the eligible students directly and will offer programs to them, with principals and vice-principals providing instruction at a location to be determined.

While teachers may still be striking at some school sites, the LRB order stated that students have unrestricted access to courses required for graduation.

"We regret that we cannot offer our full range of summer learning program," wrote Tinney, "but the fact remains that the teacher strike continues to limit our ability to provide a full range of services at this time."

He added he hoped there would be a resolution to the labour dispute at the bargaining table.

On Wednesday (July 2), a second potential mediator, Justice Stephen Kelleher, declined getting involved, saying the B.C. Teachers' Federation and and B.C. government are too far apart on wages and working conditions for mediation to be effective. Last month, longtime mediator Vince Ready said he did not have time in his schedule to mediate the dispute.

The Delta School District has cancelled summer school entirely, saying the "vast majority" of its registrants did not fit the LRB's definition and therefore summer was deemed non-essential for them.

Vancouver, Burnaby, Langley, North Vancouver, Maple Ridge, Abbotsford and Chilliwack have also cancelled summer learning programs.


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