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B.C. teachers boycott provincial exams; administrators to step in

Jan 05 2012

B.C. teachers will press their demands for a new contract by refusing to supervise provincial exams later this month.

But school districts on southern Vancouver Island say superintendents, principals, and other administrative staff will pick up the slack and students should not notice any difference.

“You’ve sat through exams,” Greater Victoria superintendent John Gaiptman said.

“Once you get your paper, all you’re worried about is the questions on the paper.

“It’s not as if we could help anyway. We’re just there to supervise and nothing else.”

The exam week begins Jan. 23 and Gaiptman said administrators should have no difficulty handling the additional workload.

“It’s two or three days where we’re going to be supervising exams,” he said. “We’ve known for a long time and planned our days around it.”

Similarly, Saanich expects it can cover off the supervision duties using superintendents, principals and other administrators.

“We’re still working on that schedule, but we believe we should be OK,” assistant superintendent Nancy Macdonald said. “We may, at the very final minute, have to call on a teacher or two to assist and we may actually just hire some folks to help — people who’ve had some experience doing it.”

The situation is more complicated on the West Shore, where administrative staff are stretched supervising playgrounds at recess as well as before and after school, Sooke district superintendent Jim Cambridge said.

He said principals and vice-principals will supervise exams where possible. But teachers have agreed to cover supervision duties where necessary, he said.

“To be honest, teachers have been pretty accommodating in working around that schedule,” Cambridge said.

The situation is made more difficult this year because students at Belmont secondary, the district’s biggest school, will be doing all their exams on computers, which means they will be in smaller rooms and require more supervisors.

“Ordinarily, we might be able to pull a couple of hundred kids into the gymnasium to do a paper exam,” Cambridge said. “In this case, we’re restricted to the six computer labs in the school.”

B.C.’s teachers have been without a contract since the end of the last school year.

In the fall, they began refusing to perform certain duties such as supervising playgrounds, preparing report cards and meeting with administrators.

Talks between the B.C. Teachers’ Federation and the B.C. Public School Employers Association resumed Wednesday.

lkines@timescolonist.com

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