How to make up for lost time 

Education stakeholders investigating how to get days lost to strike back in curriculum

School district officials are talking with the government to investigate what, if anything, can be done to get back the 10 days lost during the illegal teacher’s strike.

"The (Education) Ministry is looking at what are the best options for recovering those 10 days and ensuring that those students aren’t impacted by it," said school board chair Doug Hackett.

"They are currently contacting all of the districts, and our senior staff will be discussing with ministry staff what options are out there and my understanding is they will come to a conclusion about what sort of options are going to be allowed."

Hackett also met with the deputy minister of education last weekend to discuss the situation. Top of mind was to make it clear to government that any extra costs that may be incurred in recovering the 10 days should not be borne by the district.

Hackett said the ministry told him that any money not used to implement the recommendations, which brought an end to the strike, would be redistributed to the school district.

"The redistribution will help us with any costs associated with making up the time," said Hackett.

District Parent Advisory Council chair Cathy Jewett said parents are wondering what might be done.

"The feedback I have been getting is that parents feel that there should be some make-up and that school is important enough that you can’t just lose that time and never recoup it," she said.

A stumbling block faced by stakeholders in adding the time back to the school year is that considerable notice must be given before a change is implemented.

There is some discussion in Whistler about taking Collaboration Days; a full day teachers volunteer to spend on professional development, back into the school year. That would add three days back in.

Currently the time taken by those days is made up for in minutes added to each school day.

"We have to look at is it worth it?" said Jewett. "This could also be especially important time after having such a long break a good time for teachers to put some plans together to re-organize themselves."

While teachers are pleased to be back, said union spokesman Carl Walker, "our position is that this time will not be made up because it was struck work.

"Teachers will make adjustments within the allocated time but we are not prepared to add minutes or days to the school year."

Walker said teachers were optimistic that the government was listening to their concerns.

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