School District No. 46 (SD46) board chair Silas White has been named vice chair of the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) and is sitting at the bargaining table with teachers this week.
“I’d been elected provincially as a director on the board of BCPSEA for the four previous years,” said White. “This year was a good time to step up to a higher provincial role because I’ve built up a lot of experience as chair on the Sunshine Coast and our school district is in a very stable and positive position. We’ve got one of the strongest boards in B.C. — with a lot of credibility, energy and success to contribute to the provincial level.”
Elected vice-chair of BCPSEA at a Jan. 26 general meeting, White was also chosen by the board to be the trustee representative at the provincial bargaining table with teachers.
White said he wants to do all he can “to ensure our students, families and employees don’t relive the last round of teacher bargaining.”
“It’s going to be a challenging year with a very restrictive bargaining mandate from the government for support staff and teachers, and a lot of uncertainty heading into a provincial election,” he said.
Teachers are currently bargaining with BCPSEA for a new contract under a mutually agreed-to framework, despite a pitch from the government for a new 10-year deal.
White is hopeful negotiations will be successful.
“Considering that close to 90 per cent of boards’ budgets go into salaries and benefits, and education really is a service that is all about the people — students, educators and support staff — I’ve come to feel over my years as a trustee that labour relations are really at the core of how we can ultimately improve the educational experience for our students, largely by building trust and improving relationships in the system,” he said.