Both Niagara school boards playing waiting game about potential school closures

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Published November 1, 2022 at 9:35 am

Both major Niagara Region school boards – the District School Board of Niagara and the Niagara Catholic District School Board – are taking a “let’s see what happens” approach as tensions between the teachers and the province continue to mount.

Both are quick to note they are merely bystanders in the current situation.

“Negotiations are continuing between CUPE (the Canadian Union of Public Employees) and the Ministry of Education this week, and circumstances are subject to change,” said Warren Hoshizaki, DSBN Director of Education.

“These negotiations are between the province and CUPE, therefore the DSBN does not have any involvement in the negotiations.”

With regards to the potential shutdown of schools on Friday, November 4, both boards have sent out letters to the parents saying they are simply sitting tight as negotiations continue during the week.

“As we wait for the outcome from the province, we will be keeping you up to date with new information as we receive it, including what will be happening on Friday, November 4,” said Hoshizaki.

On October 31, the province’s education minister, Stephen Lecce, introduced a bill called “Keeping Students in Class Act,” looking to block a planned strike by school support workers.

CUPE is balking at the legislation, saying if passed, it will also impose a low-paying four-year contract for workers.

The two sides are lightyears apart with the province offering an annual 2.5 per cent wage bump for employees earning less than $43,000 and 1.5 per cent for workers earning more than that amount.

CUPE, the union representing 55,000 school support staff, including custodians, education and administrative staff, is pushing for an annual wage increase of 11.7 per cent. They have threatened province-wide walkouts by teachers and support staff should the legislation be passed on Thursday.

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