Edmonton public school trustees reject teachers' deal

The Edmonton Public School Board is rejecting the province's tentative deal with teachers.

The Edmonton Public School Board is rejecting the province's tentative deal with teachers.

"The board felt that we weren't in a position financially to commit to this proposal," said chair Sarah Hoffman. 

"Our board is facing a three-per-cent cut for this next year already," she said. "We were being asked to commit to other additional costs that won't be funded provincially and we felt like we weren't able to commit to that at this point."

Trustees voted unanimously Tuesday to urge the Alberta School Boards Association to reject the deal.

The agreement, which freezes teachers' wages for three years and gives them a two-per-cent increase in the fourth, was reached last week between the province and teachers without participation by school boards.

"With the proposed budget and with the proposed contract that we're facing, there's no way that we can continue to offer the current level of service without it impacting students," Hoffman said.

Education Minister Jeff Johnson said he can't understand why the board is rejecting the deal.

"I'm not sure what they're saying no to," he said. "The offer on the table, the proposal, is substantively the same as it was Feb. 20."

Johnson said he didn't expect all of the province's school boards would approve the deal.

The city's Catholic school board is throwing its support behind the agreement, saying labour peace is in the best interests of students, staff and parents.

"We are also pleased that possible pressure points in teacher workloads will be examined as part of the agreement," said chair Becky Kallal in a statement. 

"We know that there have been concerns expressed about the funding," she said. "But our board believes that the provincial budget and the tentative agreement with the province and the (teachers) are different issues that should be addressed separately."