Education Law

Arbitrator Finds Total Student Load Language Inapplicable to Middle School Exploratory Rotations

Earlier this year, an arbitrator was asked to determine whether total student load language originally negotiated for secondary programs ought to apply to middle school exploratory teachers. If applicable, the middle school exploratory teachers would have been well in excess of the total student load of 210 negotiated for a typical secondary school teacher with 7 teaching blocks of 30 students each.

The Union initially filed a grievance alleging the district was in violation of the collective agreement by not applying total student load language for secondary to middle school teachers. However, it decided not to pursue that grievance and instead applied under article D.4 of the Collective Agreement for interest arbitration. Because middle schools had been created during a time when total student load language had been removed from the collective agreement, but prior to the negotiation of article D.4, the parties agreed to a without prejudice truncated interest arbitration to determine if total student load language was “necessary to accommodate the middle school program”.

The district argued that a total student load of 210 was workload language based on a secondary timetable where 7 blocks of 30 students are taught in full-length courses. By contrast, middle school exploratory teachers teach several repetitions of the same short exploratory course each lasting 6-10 weeks throughout the school year. As a result, they teach many more students in the year, but only teach each student for a much shorter period. The district argued that the secondary student load workload limit was therefore inapplicable to the middle school exploratory model. Further, the collective agreement did not require it to modify the middle school exploratory program, but rather, the question was whether the student load language was necessary to accommodate the middle school exploratory program. The arbitrator agreed that total student load language was not necessary to accommodate the middle school exploratory program and declined to award the language requested by the union.

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