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Vancouver joins growing list of districts cancelling summer school

The B.C. Labour Relations Board may have deemed remedial summer school essential, but their restrictions have made it essentially impossible to deliver for school districts like Vancouver, which announced the cancellation of its summer school program today.

The board ruled June 27 that remedial summer school was an essential service teachers must provide for students who needed to finish a course they would not be able to redo in the fall. A press release issued by the Vancouver School Board this afternoon acknowledged no students in the district fit that category.

A statement from superintendent Steve Cardwell, however, blamed the cancellation on the ongoing teacher negotiations and strike.

"This is really unfortunate. However the reality is that without our teaching and support staff, due to the prospect of picket lines at our school sites, summer school will not be able to happen," read the statement.

"We continue to urge both parties to reach a negotiated settlement at the bargaining table so that school in September will not be impacted by job action."

Vancouver is one of many school districts in the province to cancel summer programs this year because of the strike. The Alberni School District announced the cancellation of its summer school program in late June, and the Canadian Press reported yesterday that Abbotsford, Prince George, Williams Lake, Campbell River, and Chilliwack have all cancelled their summer programs, too.

The Tyee Solutions Society called the Surrey School District, which is expected to announce the fate of its summer school this week, but was told a decision won't be announced until tomorrow because the superintendent is out of the office today. We also contacted the Burnaby School District and are waiting for a response.

The BC Teachers' Federation vowed last week to picket any summer school programs that were held this summer.

"This was not a decision that we made lightly, but we cannot allow government to continually underfund the B.C. education system," union president Jim Iker told media regarding picketing summer schools on June 25.

The union decided last week to continue classes at the five year-round elementary schools in the province, as well as at youth correctional and healthcare facilities, without picketing those institutions.

Katie Hyslop reports on education and youth issues for The Tyee Solutions Society. Follow her on Twitter @kehyslop.

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