Brandon School Division Supt. Marc Casavant was grilled about the division’s response to a grievance filed by the Brandon Teachers’ Association last November during cross-examination on Thursday.
In a response to the grievance filed by the teachers’ union dated Jan. 16 of this year written by Casavant, it stated that scheduling continuous improvement and professional development meetings was entirely up to teachers.
When asked by a lawyer for the teachers’ union if this was accurate according to previously given testimony, Casavant admitted that it was not.
The BSD and teachers’ union are in arbitration this week over a grievance filed in November 2018 by the union alleging that the BSD’s instructions regarding preparation time violates the contract between the parties.
Another line in the response stated that teachers had not given up preparation time to attend these meetings. When asked if that was accurate, Casavant said it was not depending on the choices teachers had made.
In his response, Casavant also wrote that teachers had the option of choosing whether their prep time would be used for improvement meetings, which Casavant admitted was not true under cross-examination.
The lawyer for the teachers’ union alleged that teachers were being coerced into holding improvement meetings during the school day.
Mention has been made during proceedings that it has been difficult to find teachers to cover prep periods. Hiring substitute teachers for this purpose is an expense the BSD does not want to undertake, especially because of what they describe as a nationwide sub shortage.
Casavant mentioned in testimony that Manitoba school divisions were directed not to increase special requirements (taxes levied) by more than two per cent.
The legal team for the teachers’ union stated that the BSD had only increased special requirements by 0.8 per cent, and could have received money for expenses for things like substitutes if they had used the full two per cent.
The teachers’ grievance alleges that the BSD increased the length and number of mandatory staff meetings, assigned professional improvement meetings outside of the school day, encouraged teachers to meet during their duty-free lunch time and didn’t let teachers bank lost prep time as outlined in a letter of understanding between the parties.
Others on the stand Thursday included assistant superintendent Mathew Gustafson.
This week’s hearings wrap up today. If business is not concluded, future arbitration dates will need to be scheduled.
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