The 84th Annual Council of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union wrapped up Sunday in Halifax. Over two-and-a-half days, some 250 voting delegates debated more than 100 resolutions dealing with issues ranging from more resources for the provinceâ€™s classrooms to the health of teachers and students.
â€œEven with the additional monies for education in this yearâ€™s provincial budget, Nova Scotia still has a long way to
go to catch up to public education funding levels in the rest of Canada,â€ says NSTU president Mary-Lou Donnelly. â€œPer-student funding for education has been at or near the bottom of all Canadian provinces and territories for too many years. The system is showing the strain and teachers, on the front-line of education, are feeling the strain. Our students deserve better. They deserve the same educational opportunities as other Canadian children.â€
Several resolutions specifically addressed the need for more resources in support of students with special needs.
â€œNSTU members are concerned that government has not committed sufficient funds to fulfil the requirements of its special education policy,â€ says Donnelly. â€œWhile we welcome the promise of more specialists and support for inclusion contained in the recent provincial budget, the need for more professional development and time for individual program planning is obvious to teachers working in the classrooms of this province.â€
Also of concern to delegates was the amount of out-of pocket expenses teachers face in providing classroom resources. Delegates passed a resolution calling upon the NSTU to lobby the province for a reasonable tax credit for teachers who pay for needed classroom supplies. The government of Prince Edward Island recently introduced a similar credit for that provinceâ€™s teachers.
The NSTU will also lobby the provincial department of health to consider teachers as being in the high risk category for influenza and therefore eligible for free vaccinations.
Delegates also took the opportunity to praise government on one of its measures. Teachers resoundingly affirmed their support for an initiative to provide healthy food choices in schools across the province.
Delegates unanimously re-elected Alexis Allen as NSTU first vice-president for a second one-year term. Allen teaches history at Lockview High School in Fall River.