What will the school year bring?

Christine Wood/Staff Writer / Staff writer
August 23, 2013 01:00 AM

As of Friday this week, the 10-day countdown to the first day of school has begun. Parents, does that realization fill you with dread, or are you ready for your kids to head back to class on Sept. 3?

Normally, I'd be sick to my stomach at the thought and scrambling about at this time, but this year I was prepared.

I managed to keep that crucial sheet of paper outlining the 26 items my 10 year old will need to tackle Grade 5 in a safe place all summer long, which, for me, is a feat in itself.

I've since found that the supply lists can be accessed on the School District 46 website at www.sd46.bc.ca, just in case you've lost the integral piece of paper.

Things are easier with my six-year-old son. I'll just pay a fee and the school will supply what he needs for Grade 1, but my daughter wanted the chance to pick her own special items.

I remember the thrill of getting new things for school each year when I was a kid. I'd look for pens with bouncing characters on top, wacky erasers and crazy-coloured binders to assert my individuality. Of course, the binders always ended up written all over, the erasers got lost in the first week or so, and most teachers banned use of the impressive pens for their tendency to distract.

Last week as we walked through stores doing our back to school shopping with the kids, I watched their excitement at getting geared up for that first day back, and it made me smile and reminisce.

My little monkeys can't wait to get back to school to see all their friends, and they're certainly ready to learn, but I wonder what kind of school year they'll face.

Negotiations with government are stalled right now for teachers and K-12 support staff across the province.

In the case of teacher negotiations, Education Minister Peter Fassbender has dismantled the bargaining association and appointed Michael Marchbank as administrator while he "restructures the bargaining process" in pursuit of the 10-year deal he's pitching as the answer to all our problems.

The move is making the BC Teachers' Association angry, and no one is sure what to expect from this undefined process.

This week support workers, represented by CUPE, are talking about launching a full-scale strike in September, which could have dire consequences for schools.

The move could mean no receptionists, custodians or special education teaching assistants for a time, and losing any of those core people from a school would be devastating.

In my children's school, the receptionist is the go-to person for just about everything, and we rely heavily on teaching assistants to help our special learners. Last year we had more than a few outbreaks of illness at our school, and without a custodian to kill those germs at night, we could be in for trouble.

And if things get worse for the teachers and they exercise their right to strike, we're in trouble there, too.

Seems like there's a cloud of trouble on the horizon, but all my kids can think about is walking into class in their new digs, greeting friends they haven't seen all summer and finding out what teacher they'll be with this year.

I'd like them to be able to focus only on those kid-type things this year, but strikes and withdrawal of services always hit students hard. At the same, time I know it's one of the few tools a union has when dealing with an employer unwilling to bend.

I don't know what this year will bring, but I hope it's stability for our students and positive steps forward with the teachers and workers who make our schools the exceptional spaces of learning they are.

My kids are ready to learn, and I don't want anything to get in the way of that.


© Coast Reporter

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