The Government of Alberta is expected to ask Alberta teachers to forgo their approximately 4.3 per cent wage increase in return for other benefits to try to help manage the provinces’ $5 million budget deficit during talks between the Alberta Teachers Association (ATA) and the government over the coming months.
The goal of the long-term collective agreements between the ATA the Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA) and the province were initiated to try and ensure long-term labour peace while protecting education programs, said a press release on the ATA website.
The current agreements will remain in place until the end of the 2011/2012 school year and officials have met almost 20 times since September to consider the next five years of teacher agreements.
The agreements currently in place would provide teacher salary increases according to the increase in average weekly earnings in Alberta in 2010 but now under tight financial constraints the government will be submitting a proposal with another offer for teachers.
In exchange for the wage increase the government is offering to put in place limits on the amount of time teachers will spend instructing students as well as limits on the amount of additional time teachers could be assigned to other duties beyond the classroom.
“I think a lot of my teachers are crammed with the workload that they have, working conditions are very important to teachers and many are overloaded with the work that they do,” said Kevin Pizzey, the ATA representative for Chinook’s Edge School Division (CESD).
The ATA will not announce their official position on the issue until they have been presented with the proposal but if they decide to accept it will also need to be passed by every school board in the province.
“We will be making the decision based on what is best for the kids and the teachers said Pizzey.
“When you look at the countries that do best on standardized testing it is the ones where teachers are given more prep time which shows in student achievement.”
CESD superintendant Kurt Sacher said that as they have just been made aware of the proposed changes they are expecting the issue to be discussed by the board.
“We will have to ask what is good for the students? And how will this impact the staff and parents? But also will have to ask about the financial implications.”