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Parents feel the frustration as tentative school year approaches

Decision on school openings to come Friday
Whistler Secondary School teacher Heather Sallows hits the picket lines again Tuesday morning.

One week out from the start of the 2014/15 school year, Whistler parents are left waiting for word of what comes next as picket lines are expected to return at local schools this week.

"I think the parents are really wondering sort of what's going on, and is there going to be any action by the end of this week that will ensure that we'll be back in school on Tuesday," said Melanie Jones, chair of the Parent Advisory Council for Myrtle Philip Community School.

"We've got no real word. We haven't heard anything of whether that's going to happen or not."

Last week, Sea to Sky School District superintendent Lisa McCullough said a decision on school openings would come Friday.

The last-minute decision is designed to give teachers and the government the maximum amount of bargaining time, but leaves parents with little time for preparation should schools open on Tuesday.

"That does put us in a little bit of a bind," said Whistler parent Lee Schwartz.

"I mean, we would have the weekend to get prepared and arrive at school on time, but it would be nice to know exactly what's happening."

With the summer behind them and little movement on either side of the debate, Schwartz said the mood among parents is mixed.

"Some parents are siding more with the government and saying if the teachers get everything that they're asking for then what's going to happen when the nurses or other unions come due to negotiate their contracts?" Schwartz said.

"And then other parents believe that the teachers need to fight for smaller class sizes and better conditions for our children."

One thing most parents agree on is a general sense of frustration with the ongoing stalemate.

"I just wish that they would be able to compromise. Come to some sort of conclusion for the sake of the children," said Whistler parent Cyndi Bridges.

"What is that teaching - and especially the children - that they can't compromise? They're not really willing to compromise at any point and the students seem to be the ones caught."

At a BC Teachers Federation leadership meeting last week in Kamloops, union president Jim Iker said the BCTF is ready to enter full-scale mediation as soon as the province will oblige.

Mediator Vince Ready has made himself available to the parties, but maintains that the two sides are still too far apart for mediation.

On Monday, parents delivered a petition with 11,000 signatures to the BC Legislature calling on the BC government to say yes to mediation with no pre-conditions.

Picket lines are expected to return to Whistler schools tomorrow.

Check back with Pique for updates.

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