03/25/2012 07:55 EDT | Updated 05/25/2012 05:12 EDT

Employer urges B.C. teachers to prepare first report cards of the year

VANCOUVER - The bargaining agent for British Columbia's 60 public school boards says teachers should begin preparing their first report cards of the year.

The BC Public School Employers' Association outlined the position in a message to members late last week, just as students from around the province were wrapping up spring break.

The announcement is the latest development in the ongoing contract dispute with the province's 41,000 teachers who have been conducting job action since September and have been refusing to perform many administrative tasks, including writing report cards.

Just last week, the BC Teachers' Federation announced members will soon vote on whether to withdraw extracurricular activities or stage a full-scale strike in protest of Bill 22, a law that ended a three-day strike and forced them back to work.

"We understand that most schools in the province are now at a point in the year where a report card is due (or was recently due)," states the association in the written notice.

"This is an important report for students, parents and the school administrators as it would normally update a child's learning progress (since the beginning of September) and identify problems that may exist or if additional support is necessary."

The employers' association says school administrators should speak with teachers' representatives about the timing and contents of the report cards, adding teachers may need additional days to submit their marks or prepare the documents.

"Districts should also begin to confirm with teachers that all marks for Grade 12 students will now be entered in the normal manner so that acceptance for post-graduation institutions will not be delayed or compromised," it adds.

Additionally, the employers' association urges school administrators to schedule staff and committee meetings and to develop a "transition plan" so teachers begin supervisory duties again.

Susan Lambert, president of the BC Teachers' Federation, was unavailable to comment. But earlier this month, and in reaction to comments from Education Minister George Abbott, Lambert said teachers wouldn't write report cards retroactively once Bill 22 passed.

"The minister knows full well that teachers have been communicating with parents to ensure they are aware of how their children are doing in class,'' she said in a statement.

"In fact, many parents have said they prefer the more informal personal contacts to the official reporting.''

Teachers have been without a contract since June 2011 and have been protesting for changes to classroom conditions, as well as a 15 per cent wage hike.

After winning approval from the Labour Relations Board earlier this month, they walked off the job for three days.

The provincial government, though, ordered them back to work by passing Bill 22 into law, banning further walkouts, forcing teachers to resume their normal duties, imposing a six-month "cooling-off" period, and then sending the contract dispute to mediation.

The law also fines teachers $475 and the union $1.3 million if there's an illegal walkout.

Lambert said last week that the provincial government has until April 17 and 18 to reverse Bill 22 or face the prospect of more job action.