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This article was published 11/7/2019 (326 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A grievance about preparation time from December 2018 has led to arbitration hearings this week between the Brandon School Division and the Brandon Teachers’ Association.
The teachers’ association believes it should be up to teachers to determine what work they carry out during their prep time.
The school division’s administration believes prep time should be much less flexible, and that they should be able to assign specific duties for this time.
While the collective bargaining agreement outlines the amount of time teachers are provided for prep time, it does not specify what it is to be used for.
Wednesday’s hearing included testimony from local teachers as well as BSD Supt. Marc Casavant.
Vincent Massey High School drafting and design teacher Shane Benson testified about having to participate in collaborative meetings with other teachers during his prep time, saying it prevented him from performing other tasks like inspecting equipment and cleaning his classroom.
"I usually come in early in the mornings and do my safety stuff with the machinery," Benson said about what he does to make up for lost time.
"I think that both sides have come to a disagreement as to what prep time is," Casavant told The Sun during a recess at Wednesday’s proceedings.
Union president Cale Dunbar declined to speak with The Sun on the record about the proceedings.
Wednesday marked the third of five days of hearings this week.
The proceedings are being held in a conference room at Victoria Inn Hotel and Convention Centre that has been set up like a miniature courtroom. The BSD’s legal team and Casavant sat at one table while the teachers’ association legal team and Dunbar sat across the room.
At the head was an arbitration panel made up of three individuals, with each party nominating one panelist while the two nominated panelists appointed a third to be the chair.
During his testimony, Casavant went through the results of a series of focus groups the BSD conducted with stakeholders to determine what they thought were the most important issues needing improvement at local schools. He then went through some of the methods being used to address these concerns, like the collaborative meetings between teachers that the BSD would like teachers to attend during their prep time.
Casavant’s testimony also included descriptions of a contentious relationship he said he had with former BTA president Peter Buehler, saying that he had to insist on only communicating through formal written communication after interactions he described as "untruthful."
The superintendent said that teachers are not required to perform duties during lunch, but he realizes that some may do so anyway.
"I think it’s inevitable. Teachers are caring, professional individuals," Casavant said. "If there’s something they want to tend to, I’m sure they’re going to tend to it. They certainly don’t need to though."
With many witnesses left to call, there was ambiguity in the room as to whether the proceedings would be completed by end of day Friday. If outstanding business remains, both parties will need to agree on a time to reconvene in the future.
Thursday’s proceedings will begin with Casavant being cross-examined by the BTA’s legal team.
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