Lily Cole has something she’d like to share with the rest of the class.
The president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers’ Association is addressing the opening session this morning of the union’s general meeting, running until Friday at the Sheraton Hotel in St. John’s.
The meeting comes on the heels of last week’s provincial budget, giving teachers plenty to discuss.
Since the release of the budget, Cole has noted the union will keep an eye on the government’s planned school board restructuring, and expressed concerns about what the merger of four English school districts into one will mean for the teachers laid off in the provincial budget. A total of 142 positions were eliminated.
The union’s collective agreement allows a laid-off teacher to “bump” into a position as close to his or her community as possible, within the same district, but there will soon just be one provincewide district for English schools and one for French.
Cole declined Tuesday to discuss specifics of her speech. She said it wouldn’t be all about the budget, but the layoffs and school board restructuring will very much be on everyone’s minds.
“The speech is about what we’ve been doing since our last biennial general meeting, in 2011, and things that are ongoing,” she said.
“There will definitely be comments made about the budget, comments made about our collective bargaining process. There will be talks about the value of education and how society must start the conversation again and value education again. It’s not an economic drain, it’s actually an investment.”
Cole said the union very much wants to be “part of the conversation” about how the school board restructuring will be done.
“We have a collective agreement that must be followed, and we’re into negotiations now,” she said. “Some of the people that are across the table negotiating from us will no longer be in existence, so that’s another issue.
“We don’t understand how all that’s going to play out yet, but we are certainly going to be part of that conversation with negotiations and how all those things factor in when there is only one board.”