“The teachers are ready for the government to come to an agreement to avoid these unnecessary cuts they are trying to send our way,” North Hastings High School teacher Kendra Kilpatrick says.
Communications Officer with Hastings-Prince Edward District School Board Kerry Donnell tells My Bancroft Now that while teachers and education workers work-to-rule, schools will stay open and operate as usual. “We will monitor the situation and keep families informed on if there are changes,” she adds. “The job action is not affecting students.”
Kilpatrick echos what Donnell said making sure to point out that what they’re doing is not and will not affect students.
Kilpatrick says they’re doing “information pickets.” She explains they’re handing out pamphlets to passers-by to educate those who may not know what they’re doing and why. “We hope that our students can have full access to programming and courses that are going to help them out with post-secondary choices,” she says when asked what their goal as they join teachers and education workers across Ontario who are picketing out front of schools.
Kilpatrick says their goal is to keep the public informed about what is going on. Further to that, a website has been set-up by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation to keep the public in the loop on negotiations.
The government is proposing increasing the average class size to 25 students for every one teacher. “It will reduce the time we can spend with each student,” Kilpatrick says. She adds that cuts could be coming to support staff as well. “It’s not going to be a good learning environment,” Kilpatrick says.
With the proposed class size increase, she says 3.3 teachers could be lost at North Hastings High School. She explains that loss would mean 20 classes would be cut as well. “They’re definitely not going to be cancelling compulsory courses like math or science,” she says.
Work action began Monday and Kilpatrick says it will continue for the rest of the week. She says the feeling amongst the other picketers is positive. She says the public response has also been positive with her pointing out that she’s had people come up to her outside of work hours to ask about what’s going on.