The Ontario Ministry of Education has confirmed its intention to provide funding to build an addition at Roxmore Public School in Avonmore in order to accommodate additional students from North Stormont PS in Berwick.
At the same time, the province is financing the consolidation of Cornwall CVS and St. Lawrence SS into one secondary grades 7-12 school.
Two schools on the block S.J. McLeod in Bainsville and North Stormont Public in Berwick are among 12 schools recommended for closure in an Upper Canada District School Board staff report. Other area schools will be preserved, according to the staff report that is to be discussed February 15. "While there were areas within the district–wide Accommodation Review where staff were able to arrive at a clear set of recommendations for the Board of Trustees via this report, there were other areas in the District that require further study beyond the scope and/or timelines of this Accommodation Review," the report reads. It is the intention of staff to continue to review the status of student programming and the District’s capacity for operating schools within regions that include Char-Lan and Glengarry.
As employees picketed its head office in L’Orignal Tuesday morning, Le Conseil scolaire de district catholique de l’Est ontarien said that its schools remain open and buses would continue to roll.
Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 4155 members began demonstrating after contract talks broke down last week.
Each side was blaming the other for the impasse at the French-language Catholic board which administers 25 elementary and eight secondary schools, with a total enrolment of over 10,000, in Stormont, Dundas, Glengarry and Prescott-Russell.
CUPE 4155 represents supervisors, school administrators, clerks, maintenance workers, library technicians and IT technicians at the CSDCEO.
The CSDCEO is still the only school board in Ontario without a local collective agreement with its education workers. “But now its refusal to reach a deal at the bargaining table has taken its employees – members of CUPE 4155 – to the brink of a strike,” the union stated.
But the board replies that union negotiators chose to leave the bargaining table.
At a session February 1, conciliators proposed new dates for negotiations. These dates were accepted by the CSDCEO, but were rejected by the union, the board says. CUPE subsequently issued a notice of intention to strike.
“During the many negotiating meetings, CSDCEO has always negotiated in good faith and proposed different solutions. We believe it is possible to avoid a labor dispute, since all monetary issues have already been determined by central agreements. The CSDCEO remains willing to negotiate with CUPE and does not want a labor dispute,” insisted board director of education François Turpin.
If the labour dispute continues, all necessary steps will be taken to ensure the safety and welfare of students and staff, the board said.
“We have been extremely patient with our employer, so that we could avoid just such a labour dispute,” said Raymond Giroux, president of CUPE 4155.
“But after 12 bargaining dates and the impasse we reached in negotiations – even working with conciliators – we realized that, unfortunately, the time had come to take job action, up to and including a full strike.”