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School board to ask ministry to repeal Bill 115

By Sara Carson, Orillia Packet & Times

The Simcoe County District School Board (SCDSB) has asked the board chair to write a letter to the ministry asking that Bill 115 be repealed.

“I think the ministry needs to hear from not only bargaining units about their concerns, but also boards of education as well,” Robert North, SCDSB chair, said Friday.

In September, the provincial government passed a bill that freezes teachers’ pay and cuts sick-day benefits and the retirement gratuity. The board feels the bill interferes with collective bargaining negotiations.

North feels hiring practices regulation 274-12 — passed in August — impacts how the board makes its hiring decisions.

“It’s very much a centralization of power on both fronts and calls into question the role of boards,” North said.

North — who planned on sending the letter Friday or early Monday — didn’t have a copy available Friday.

“It, basically speaks to the boards concerns about over-centralization of power around various items, including negotiations,” he said. “The government wants to hold us accountable for all sorts of stuff, but wants to put (in place) some pretty severe parameters about what we can negotiate with our bargaining units.”

Jodi Lloyd, trustee for Severn, Ramara and Tay townships, agreed Bill 115 interferes with the boards ability to bargain locally.

“We feel that undermines our ability as a board,” she said. “(Trustees are) responsible for ensuring the education of the students in Simcoe County. We’re concerned that legislation restricts our ability to function in our role.”

Lloyd doesn’t feel hiring should be tied to seniority.

“We want to be able to interview and hire the best teacher that’s available,” she said.

Orillia trustee Debra Edwards agreed.

“If they’re telling us who to hire, what does that leave us to do?” she asked. “We might as well pack up and go home. It does raise the question of future roles of school boards.”

Twitter: @Sara_VRoss

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