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Striking on-call teachers 'entirely' to blame for no extracurriculars: school board
TLDSB has cancelled all extracurricular activities.

Striking on-call teachers ‘entirely’ to blame for no extracurriculars: school board

in Education by

The Advocate asked Trillium Lakelands District School Board four questions in an email for clarity about the board’s decision to cancel all extracurricular activities. Catherine Shedden, district manager of corporate communications, responds.

Advocate: Why is ours the only school board in the province to cancel extracurricular activities?

Shedden: We cannot speak to the decisions of other school boards. We can only respond to the decision made by TLDSB. And in TLDSB classroom programming is our priority. In TLDSB we would have to collapse classrooms and have administrators supervising large numbers of students and classes in libraries and gymnasiums which is not conducive to our priority of maintaining optimal classroom programming.

Advocate: Doesn’t this contradict the Feed All Four philosophy of TLDSB?

Shedden: We firmly believe in Feed All Four — as you know we state that it is the TLDSB way of being. However, as you’ll see in recent messaging from the director of education Larry Hope, we are not always able to be all things to all people. Currently, in this climate of labour disruption, we are presented with circumstances where we have to choose academic programming over extracurricular activities that take place during the school day which require staff supervision.

Feed All Four is also self reflective — an individual can be responsible for feeding their mind, body, spirit, and emotions each and every day. While we have asked that extracurricular activities be rescheduled to after school hours, students can still engage in physical activities — for example walking to and from school, etc.

Advocate: Why weren’t parents consulted in advance?

Shedden: Decisions based on job sanctions from the provincial union are not intended permanent. They are a temporary solution to an immediate problem. However, we are taking all the feedback from the community into consideration. Teachers no longer doing on-calls (replacing other teachers when that teacher needs to be out of the classroom) is a complex problem which includes adhering to collective agreements and recent sanctions, and the availability of supply staff. The decision to request that extracurricular activities be rescheduled to take place after the school day (for Kawartha Lakes area schools — that means after 2:30 pm) is based on the labour circumstances with which we must operate at this time.

Advocate: OSSTF notes that the board is already in a position to hire eight occasional teachers …. so why hasn’t it?

Shedden: Teachers are added to the supply list on a consistent basis, however the list is quickly depleted and is replenished in an expedient way as possible. As mentioned earlier, and in Larry (Hope’s) message, there are contractual factors affecting additions to the supply list. The list is capped by the union at 90 plus an additional 10 per cent leeway. We have recently negotiated with the union to make some changes supply list development. New additions are currently being brought on board.

It is important to note that it is entirely due to the striking of on-calls (teachers on school staff replacing teachers when absent) that we are in this predicament and have made the decision to not run extra curriculars during the school day. Every secondary teacher must provide a specific number of on-call class coverages in a school year as part of their collective agreement. And now they are not doing this, leaving schools to rely on a supply list that already (with on-calls in place) not sufficient to cover demand.

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Roderick Benns is the publisher of The Lindsay Advocate. He is the author of 'Basic Income: How a Canadian Movement Could Change the World,' and is also on the communications team of the Basic Income Canada Network. An award-winning author and journalist who grew up in Lindsay, Roderick has interviewed former Prime Ministers of Canada, Senators, and Mayors across Canada. He also wrote and published a series of books for youth about Canada's Prime Ministers as teens.

4 Comments

  1. I am surprised and disappointed that you chose such an inflammatory title “Striking on-call teachers ‘entirely’ to blame for no extracurriculars: school board”, for your article/interview with Catherine Shedden, district manager of corporate communications with the TLDSB. You chose to insert the the phrase “…to blame” in your title, although Ms. Shedden did not use such inflammatory language when explaining how job action affects extracurriculars. “Teachers no longer doing on-calls (replacing other teachers when that teacher needs to be out of the classroom) is a complex problem which includes adhering to collective agreements and recent sanctions, and the availability of supply staff. The decision to request that extracurricular activities be rescheduled to take place after the school day (for Kawartha Lakes area schools — that means after 2:30 pm) is based on the labour circumstances with which we must operate at this time.” Ms. Shedden clearly states that “Decisions based on job sanctions from the provincial union are not intended permanent. They are a temporary solution to an immediate problem.” Teachers are being villainized for standing up for and trying to protect public education. People need to be thinking beyond the next basketball game, to how classrooms will be impacted by the cuts of the Ford government. “Public schools in Ontario will lose approximately 10,000 teachers over the next five years due to an increase in class sizes, (stated) the province’s fiscal watchdog.”(CBC) Over 9000 of these jobs would be at the high school level. Teachers are actively resisting these cuts and the negative effects they will have on all students. They are looking ahead and see how students will really lose out in the near future if these cuts go ahead. The education policy from the Ford government is concerned with one thing- how to gouge the system and make it look like it is the teachers’ fault. You have helped them promote this false narrative with such an inflammatory title for your article. I think the interview itself is informative. If the government succeeds in cutting 10,000 teaching jobs, I wonder how school boards will have the funds and staffing to cover extracurricular activities during school hours?

    • We stand with all education workers – 100%. The board said something inflammatory. Use this energy to call your trustee, local MPP Laurie Scott or come join the teachers on Monday. The title came directly from a quote from the board – this is there position.

  2. The title of this article is entirely misleading and inflammatory. It is NOT the teachers fault that the board decided to cancel. Other boards have cancelled extra curricular activities on strike days only, so for the TLDSB to cancel all extra activities and then cite the labor action as a reason is incredibly silly and selfish.

  3. The headline is a direct quote from the board in the article. It is inflammatory that the board is saying this. Contact your trustee, MPP Laurie Scott and stand with teachers on Monday.

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