Director hoping for labour peace

By Kirk Winter

Wes Hahn, the director of education for the Trillium Lakelands District School Board, is very hopeful that after three school years disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic that this year will be a quiet year for staff and students with a minimum of interruptions, particularly on the labour front.

Currently all TLDSB teachers, secretaries, custodians, educational assistants and other board support staff are without collective agreements that expired right across the province on Aug. 31.

“We have just begun talks with CUPE (Canadian Union of Public Employees who represent school support staff),” Hahn told the Advocate in a telephone interview. “Talks with the teachers’ unions are coming. We are going to have to work hard at the local bargaining table, and it isn’t going to be easy or perfect to achieve settlements.”

When asked what the chances might be for a school labour disruption locally, Hahn was unsure.

“There is always a chance,” Hahn said. “We don’t want it. Parents don’t want it. I can’t imagine a fourth year of disruption but the central (bargaining) table (in Toronto that deals with issues like wages) will play a big piece in bringing about a settlement.”

Hahn was not specific when job actions could start in TLDSB.

“We don’t have any deadlines in place right now,” Hahn said. “We are going to keep coming to the table. No one wants this. What would parents say?”

Extra-curriculars

Hahn was please to share that extra-curriculars “are full back on.”

“We still have a number of staff who are hesitant because they are dealing with COVID or family members with COVID,” Hahn said. “I think we are in a very good place with extra-curriculars right now.”

Enrollment/new schools

When asked to address the significant number of new home builds planned for Lindsay over the next decade and how that might impact the board’s building plans, Hahn was cautionary.

“We don’t have guidelines from the ministry regarding doing up-to-date accommodation reviews (which provide boards the provincially approved formula regarding closing underused schools and planning for new building if necessary),” Hahn said. “We are waiting for guidelines from the ministry. The ministry has stopped boards from opening or closing schools for the last three years. There appear to be no timelines from the ministry regarding getting this information out to the boards. As soon as they do, we will be on it.”

“We really can’t predict who will be coming to fill those houses,” Hahn added. “We know families are smaller than they ever have been. We also know that retirees are buying bigger homes than they ever have so grown children can come visit.”

Hahn did tell The Advocate that there are 400 more students registered at board schools than last September.

“We believe they are city folk, some renting while their new home is being built,” Hahn said.

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