Teachers deal headed in the right direction

Local Alberta Teachers’ Association representatives say the tentative deal reached between the teachers’ union and the province on Thursday looks promising.

Local Alberta Teachers’ Association representatives say the tentative deal reached between the teachers’ union and the province on Thursday looks promising.

The 40,000 teachers across the province now have until May 13 to vote on the agreement. The Alberta Teachers Association is supporting the deal.

Brice Unland, ATA Local 80 – Catholic Schools, said the tentative deal is moving in the right direction to ensure that everybody is provided with what they are looking for in the education system.

“It allows us to continue doing our local bargaining which is an important step for us but at the same time taking care of the big rock,” said Unland.

“At this point everything is unexpected when it comes to the budget and what’s been happening. Is it expected? It meets some of our needs and some of the things we are looking for. Certainly it could be better.”

The proposal is a four-year deal with a three-year wage freeze followed by a two-per-cent increase and a one-time bonus from the province in 2015.

Alberta Education has also promised to conduct an internal review, a third-party study and review teacher workloads.

“From what I heard, it sounds positive,” said Kevin Pizzey, Chinook’s Edge Local #17 president.

“Our focus is not money. Our focus is on working conditions. I think they made some progress in looking at working conditions for teachers across the province.”

Pizzey said having a better classroom which results in better learning for students is really what is important for teachers.

Red Deer Local #60 president Kelly Aleman said if the tentative agreement is recommended by the ATA, there are probably some good things in the deal. He said there is no doubt there will be questions about the details in the proposed deal.

“We’ll have to see if this is acceptable for teachers,” he said.

Local school trustees have not combed the details in the agreement either but expressed some concern over how the agreement was reached and the potential effects on the classroom.

Guy Pelletier, vice-chair of the Red Deer Catholic Schools, said the board is happy there is an agreement that the province and the ATA can live with, but there are three parties to it with the school boards being an important one.

“The process is not ideal to get to this point,” said Pelletier. “But at some point we have to be able to move forward and say it’s best for the school divisions and the students. Let’s move forward. We may be at that spot now.”

Lawrence Lee, chairman of the Red Deer Public School District, said the board is disappointed about how quickly the agreement came about.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com

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