Trustees not following union first agenda

Recent letter to the editor filled with ironic examples

Editor, The Record:

Re: Put Mission students first, July 26 edition.

As an English teacher, I’m always on the lookout for good examples of irony. Randy Hawes’ recent letter certainly abounds with incongruous remarks. First and foremost is his suggestion that Mission’s current school trustees are acting against students’ best interests by downsizing upper management at the School board office.

Considering the financial crisis the board is experiencing is largely due to chronic under-funding by his Liberal government, Mr. Hawes’ provocative language is laughable. Or, rather, it would be if the consequences in the classroom weren’t so serious. Perhaps I missed it, but I don’t recall Mr. Hawes protesting the closing of schools in our community, or the laying-off of teachers and support staff, or the overcrowding of special needs students in regular classrooms. Why is he speaking out now on behalf of redundant board administrators? Could it be that he is the one guilty of a hidden agenda, rather than the trustees he accuses?

Mr. Hawes is well aware of the fact that school boards cannot run a deficit. By cutting administrative positions that do not directly impact students, our trustees offer the district the best operating plan for a challenging financial time. Just as teachers and support staff, individuals who actually work with children, are having to do more with less — due to cutbacks made in previous years — it is now necessary for upper management to find a way do the same.

Our trustees are not following a union first agenda, as Mr. Hawes claims. Eighty-five members of the Mission Teachers’ Union were laid off this spring. You may well imagine how upsetting this was for the affected teachers. We still do not know how many of these teachers will be re-shuffled into positions and how many have actually lost employment with MPSD.

I do believe Mr. Hawes is overstating his case when he declares that the new board stripped the superintendent of his power to make administrative decisions. It is my understanding that the trustees told the superintendent how much had to be cut from the budget and then left it to him to decide how to accomplish the savings. Mr. Hawes also errs when he claims only two administrators remain at the school board office. I know there to be at least four.

Hopefully, the superintendent and his team can adjust to the harsh reality shared by all of us working within the B.C. educational system. As educators we must pull together to do the best we can for the children under our care despite the funding shortfalls inflicted upon us by the indifferent Liberal government Mr. Hawes represents.

Kate Ross

Mission