Ann Hawkins is the new president of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association. When asked about balancing a school board’s deficit, Perkins said savings can be found elsewhere in a school system rather than cuts to the classroom. Photo courtesy of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association

OECTA president to focus on relationship building

By 
  • March 21, 2015

Over the next two years Ann Hawkins hopes to use her position as the new Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association’s (OECTA) president to build relationships and protect the Catholic classroom.

“As a strong unionized teachers association we have to build our capacity and our relationships,” said Hawkins, elected president during the union’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) held March 14 to 16. “We want to make sure that the outreach goes as far as we can.”

That’s why Hawkins said the union will push for collaboration between the province’s four union organizations as well as focus on strengthening national and international connections.

She steps into the role during a time of tension in the province as local units are engaging in contract negotiations and the Ministry of Education looks at reducing funding for Grants for Student Needs.

“At this point in time, collective bargaining is one of the key priorities that we have,” said Hawkins, who’s served as OECTA’s collective bargaining provincial liaison for a number of years. “Minister (Liz) Sandals was at our AGM and she couldn’t say quiet clearly what the (cuts) are because they hadn’t yet gone to cabinet.”

Toronto Catholic, the largest Catholic board in the province, is looking to address a deficit by cutting about 300 full-time teaching positions during their collective bargaining.

“One of things that Minister Sandals has said is that any measures used to address the deficit should not actually impact on the classroom,” she said.

“We have a board (Toronto Catholic) in fact doing that with job cuts and the withdrawal of services from special needs students, and the reduction of junior and primary literacy intervention teachers. I am going to be very interested to see what the minister will actually do with a board who is ignoring her directions.”

Rather than take the route being entertained by Toronto’s Catholic board of trustees Hawkins said savings could be found elsewhere.

“There are better ways and more efficient ways to find money within a school system rather than taking it from a classroom,” said Hawkins, who began her career as a teacher 40 years ago.

And it isn’t just Toronto’s Catholic and public boards that should be seeking this kind of service sharing collaboration as the majority of the schools within the province face half-empty classrooms.

“On the wider of issue of declining enrolment and the whole idea of schools not filled to capacity, it is going to be a challenge because we have rural schools with very few students,” she said.

“But I honestly believe that we can deal with this by looking at (schools) being community hubs rather than closing schools, because any time you close a school you cause disruptions in a neighbourhood.”

Despite stepping into her two-year term as president during a somewhat troubling time for education in the province Hawkins remains optimistic.

“I tend to be a very positive person,” she said. “I really believe that we can find creative solutions.”

Comments (4)

  1. Luciano

This union should be foreced by our Bishops to have the word Catholic removed from it. They are not Catholic as highlighted by their well pubilicized scandalous disobedience of the bishops request not to attend the "pride" event. They are in no...

This union should be foreced by our Bishops to have the word Catholic removed from it. They are not Catholic as highlighted by their well pubilicized scandalous disobedience of the bishops request not to attend the "pride" event. They are in no way Catholic and are just a bunch of hypocrites.

Read More
  Attachments
 
  1. Luciano

She might think about rebuilding the realtionship with the Catholic taxpayers of this province who have been disgusted by their past actions contrary to church teaching

  Attachments
 
  1. Sam

She's not even Catholic. SMH.

  Attachments
 
  1. Anna

I hope you will not be marching in the Gay Pride parade again this year !!

  Attachments
 
There are no comments posted here yet

Leave your comments

Posting comment as a guest. Sign up or login to your account.
Attachments (0 / 3)
Share Your Location