Coquitlam district teachers plan another rally

Coquitlam district teachers are planning another rally for Port Coquitlam after a successful one on Tuesday. - DIANE STRANDBERG/THE TRI-CITY NEWS
Coquitlam district teachers are planning another rally for Port Coquitlam after a successful one on Tuesday.

Teachers in School District 43 are ready to rally again for public education after a demonstration held Tuesday in Coquitlam drew more than 300 people and plenty of honks from supporters driving by.

Another rally is planned for next Friday, May 23 at 4 p.m. — this time at Leigh Square Community Arts Village in Port Coquitlam — and a Facebook page has been set up for the event, hosted by four Coquitlam district teachers.

If all goes as planned, this will be the third local rally in support of public education; the first was held May 2 by a parents’ group called Parents4BC and the second, on Tuesday, drew hundreds of teachers to Como Lake Avenue between Hillcrest middle school and Dr. Charles Best secondary, wearing black carrying placards or a number representing their spot in the layoff recall list.

The teacher rallies follow the layoffs of 630 teachers, including some with more than eight years of experience, with between 70 and 90 teachers not expecting to get their jobs back in September because of budget cuts. As well, 200 unionized support workers received layoff notices.

“For many families, it’s devastating,” said rally organizer Kara Obojski, who said the event was organized to raise awareness of the impacts of cuts in the district after $13.4 million was chopped from spending to balance the budget. “I’m a parent and I’m worried about what experience my son will have. He’s only in kindergarten.”

Among the teachers attending the rally was Centennial teacher-librarian Philip Salembier, who said he’s worried about the impact of cuts on students.

Although he’s not expecting to get laid off, Salembier said he came out in solidarity with teachers who received notices and expressed concerns about the loss of about 15 electives at his school, and whether the library could be kept open for students.

He’ll go back to teaching English but said he’s likely to displace another teacher.

“This is the worst I’ve ever seen it,” Salembier said about this year’s budget cuts and layoffs.


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