Trustee doing what’s best for students

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To the Editor:

(Re: “School board trustee must stand up for students)

The letter was written by Creston Valley Teachers’ Association president Becky Blair. As it went in two days before elections were to be held I was not given the ability to respond. I would like to take this opportunity to provide our community with my thoughts on some of the points she brought forward.

The title of her letter, “Trustee must stand up for students,” is exactly what I feel, as a trustee, is my role. All of the criticizing emails and comments I received during the election were around how I do not support teachers, not around the job that I do in standing up for what is right for students. I pride myself in not being an advocate for special interest groups or unions. As a trustee, my decisions are based on the input I receive from all people involved, which includes teachers but also students, parents, support staff, administration, community and any other group that may be involved in the issues.

In my role as the chair for the BC Public School Employers’ Association, I represent the 60 boards from around the province, and as spokesperson I speak on behalf of those I represent and I take this role seriously. Bargaining is difficult under any circumstances and in the kindergarten-Grade 12 sector it is even more challenging, as kids are affected by the labour dispute. The current strike is having a negative impact in our schools and on students, so the conversations at the bargaining table are so important and need to be dealt with as quickly as possible.  As an employer, we truly value our employees and the work they do, but there are contractual changes to the collective agreement we would like to see to better the service we offer to the students in our district.

I understand there will be disagreements during this process but the personal attacks and rhetoric that are taking place do not help the situation, but only diminish the relationships that we need to work together. Asking for changes in a contract is not a sign of disrespect but an honouring of the bargaining process that we have in place. As your local trustee, I will continue to work with everyone involved to make decisions based on what is best for students.

Mel Joy, School Trustee

Town of Creston