VANCOUVER – School trustees and K-12 workers share a common interest in having the best public education system possible for B.C.’s children, CUPE BC President Mark Hancock told the annual general meeting of the British Columbia School Trustees Association (BCSTA).
Hancock, commenting on the impact of unexpected budget cuts after years of chronic underfunding by the BC Liberal government, said that everyone who cares about public education should be concerned about Bill 11 (the Education Statutes Amendment Act). CUPE has a number of concerns with Bill 11, he said—the foremost being reduced autonomy for elected school trustees and the increased power the Bill gives government.
“Bill 11 gives the Minister greater latitude to issue directives, and more authority to intervene if they do not like decisions you have made,” he said, adding that the designation of service providers could have a negative impact on CUPE members. He noted that significant work has been done on shared services across districts, but that the program had been voluntary until now.
“This Bill is a sea change from that approach,” said Hancock.
The CUPE BC president closed by offering to work collaboratively with the BCSTA.
“At the end of the day, we do all care deeply about public education for our children,” said Hancock.
The BCSTA’s AGM also featured a panel discussion, Who’s Who, Who Does What and Why, in which Hancock described the services CUPE members provide in the K-12 system. He also shared with school trustees an understanding of how the K-12 Presidents’ Council works, as well as some background on CUPE locals, structure, democratic processes and the political work the union does to support public services.
“We work with likeminded partner organizations to promote and strengthen public services including advocating for the funding necessary to provide those services,” said Hancock.
The AGM also featured a social event hosted by CUPE BC, which provided an opportunity for CUPE BC executive, K-12 presidents and staff to meet and connect with trustees in an informal setting.
Hancock told delegates that CUPE BC and the BCSTA face a lot of similar challenges. “Even though there’s going to be differences between school boards and CUPE locals, the BCSTA and CUPE BC, it’s important that we find those places that we can work together on issues,” said Hancock.
“I think you’ll find that CUPE BC and BCSTA, by working together, can change this province.”
View the CUPE BC gallery for photos of the event.