It took 35 temporary workers and three supervisors some three weeks and $200,000, but Waterloo Region District School Board’s 42,000 elementary students will finally receive their grades by July 31, a WRDSB spokesperson said this week.
“We had a leadership team that was able to bring in approximately 35-40 folks who are not WRDSB employees,” Marty Deacon explained. “We worked through an agency (to get workers) to come in, in a very focused session to learn about report card entry, to take the information that was recorded in a variety of ways and input the report card data for all of our students, so that we could provide the mark summaries.”
The issue arose at the end of the school year in June after the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario instructed its members not to input their student’s grades. The tactic was part of ongoing labour strife, which has seen the union go without a contract since last August.
At first, the WRDSB said it would be too difficult to provide report cards, since grades were not inputted by teachers electronically as is typically the protocol. Instead, they planned to distribute placement letters that would let students know which grade they would be assigned to in the fall along with basic attendance information.
But concerns from the community caused the board to change its tune.
Now, families will be receiving a “summary of marks” by mail, which will not include comments nor will they be filed in official student records.
“We are really just glad that we able to do this and we are glad that the trustees were able to support this sort of change in our thinking and to ultimately get the information to our families so they can have that as they head into the next school year.”
In a legal strike position since May 10, the ETFO began work-to-rule tactics May 18 in an effort to get negotiations with the province moving in their directions.
For months, union representatives insisted teachers are looking to maintain prep time and class size limits along with other student learning-centered initiatives at the bargaining table. However in late June the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association went public with the teacher’s demand of three per cent raises for the first three years of a new deal, on top of cost of living increases.
ETFO local representative Greg Weiler denied the assertion, saying there has been no formal proposal put on the table.
He did speculate that, “in the past, when you start a negotiation, and I can only speak to locally, because that’s the level I am involved in, you would always come forward with some kind of starting position, which was certainly never something that you expected to get. … I can tell you I would not go in front of my members, in the climate we are in, and say we are going to do a job action just to get salary improvements. I wouldn’t support that and I know my members wouldn’t support that.”
Teachers’ salaries increased by 21.5 per cent from 2004-2012 in Ontario, holding steady since in part due to the lack of a new contract. OPSBA says the union’s demands would cost the province some $3.2 billion.