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EDUCATION

Status of Thames Valley District school board report cards up in the air

Kate Dubinski

By Kate Dubinski, The London Free Press

(Postmedia Network file photo)

(Postmedia Network file photo)

Pass?

Fail?

Who knows.

Parents of elementary school kids in the London area won’t know for awhile whether kids will even get final report cards, as the ripple effect of their teachers’ contract standoff with the province widens.

As Toronto Thursday joined a growing list of public school boards that won’t send home final report cards for grade school kids, the situation is still unclear in the Thames Valley District school board, Southwestern Ontario’s largest school system.

The board is “working through options” and will let parents know by the school year’s end, a spokesperson said.

The 76,000-member Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO), one of three teachers’ unions locked in a contract impasse with the province, is on a work-to-rule campaign as talks with school boards and the province — which says it has no new money for contracts — failed to produce a collective agreement.

Ontario’s more than 180,000 teachers have been working under contracts that expired last August, amid growing speculation Ontario could be headed for full-blown teachers’ strikes this fall if new deals aren’t nailed down soon.

The elementary year ends June 25, but teachers have to hand in evaluations by the end of the day Monday.

Teachers in Grades 1-8 will submit letter grades on paper for each child, in each subject, to principals. Teachers in junior and senior kindergarten, and special education, will submit one brief comment per child, per subject area, in paper form.

“It’s a summation of everything that’s been done that term,” said Craig Smith, the area ETFO president.

It usually takes a teacher 60 to 80 hours to do a class set of report cards.

But faced with paper stacks they’ll be forced to input, principals in the Toronto, York and Peel boards — Ontario’s largest — say they’ll simply issue letters confirming whether kids pass or fail the year.

It’s unclear what will happen at the Thames Valley board.

“The school board association has discovered that report card-writing is not only time-consuming, it’s also expensive,” said Smith.

The province has said it won’t give school boards extra money to input the report cards.

Teachers use two professional activity days — this past Monday was one — to do report cards.

“A lot of us work outside of the work day, we do report cards on weekends and evenings,” Smith said.

Some boards, including those in the Sarnia and Windsor areas, have directed principals to input marks.

The standoff means pupils won’t get much-needed assessments, said Joyce Bennett, a Thames Valley trustee.

“I wish ETFO wasn’t working to rule,” she said. “Studenst have worked as hard as they can, and they look to report cards to validate what they’ve done. Parents also use them to see what their child has accomplished and to maybe see if they need to take summer school.”

It might not be realistic to expect principals to input report card marks, she said. The decision will be made by senior administrators.

“This is not a very positive way to end a year,” she said.

The Liberal government, still battling a huge budget shortfall, has vowed to continue negotiating over the summer to avoid more labour troubles at school in September.

— With files by Antonella Artuso, Postmedia Network

Kate.dubinski@sunmedia.ca

Twitter.com/KateatLFPress

 

WHERE THINGS STAND

With the three teachers’ unions:

  • Public elementary teachers: 76,000-member union in legal strike position, waging work-to-rule campaign across Ontario. Report cards up in the air. Still at table for local talks.
  • Public high school teachers: 60,000-member union struck in several boards, but strikes were ruled illegal. Have applied for conciliation in provincial talks, after which — if no agreement reached — a report can be issued that starts a 17-day countdown to a strike or lockout.
  • Catholic school teachers: 50,000-member union has a 94.2% strike mandate. No talks with local boards under a central, provincial deal reached.

 


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