HOOPLA potentially benched with teacher job action

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HOOPLA basketball championships potentially benched with teacher job action
One of the largest tournaments in Saskatchewan High School athletics could be cancelled this week after contract negotiations continue to stall between the STF and provincial government. Andrew Benson has more on HOOPLA – Mar 18, 2024

Teacher job action in Saskatchewan this week will see extracurricular activities being pulled from schools across the province Thursday and Friday, potentially impacting HOOPLA, the provincial high school basketball championships taking place in Moose Jaw.

The Saskatchewan High Schools Athletic Association (SHSAA) responded to the announcement of the job action Monday, saying that the championship could be saved if the government and teacher bargaining committees can lift sanctions before 3 p.m. on Wednesday.

“If sanctions are not lifted, HOOPLA will be cancelled due to the lack of teacher involvement in the events and the constraints for schools and host sites in planning and preparing for the events,” the association said.


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The association said that if teachers aren’t available to participate in SHSAA activities as coaches, officials and organizers, then the events can’t be held.

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“It will be extremely disappointing if the two sides cannot come to an arrangement that will allow the sanctions to be lifted. Approximately 750 students plus coaches, managers and other team personnel would be impacted by the cancellation as will several other organizations and entities that are involved with SHSAA and the hosting of basketball playoffs. The negative economic impact will be vast.”

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The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation announced Monday morning that there will be a provincewide strike on Wednesday, with provincewide sanctions withdrawing extracurriculars for Thursday and Friday.

“Extracurricular activities are an incredibly valuable part of the school experience for both students and teachers, but the education of children and youth is always our first priority,” STF president Samantha Becotte said.

“We can no longer watch the decline of our students’ learning environment while government ignores reality and refuses to make a commitment to predictable, sustainable funding for prekindergarten to Grade 12 education.”

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A number of students protested in both Regina and Saskatoon against the tournament being cancelled including Walter Murray Collegiate grade 9 student Ryan Deutscher. She called on both the STF and the government to get a deal done.

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“All my teammates are like my second family to me,” she said Monday. “We are all just so close, and it is just a place I can go to just have fun. Basketball makes me really happy and it would just be so devastating to see HOOPLA be cancelled because basketball means so much to everybody here.”

Grade 12 student Sophie Larsen echoed a similar sentiment.

“This is such a big deal,” Larsen said about the tournament. “For some of us, this is the last time we will ever play basketball.”

Larsen went on to say she is happy issues like classroom complexity and size are being fought for, but said it hurts when students activities are cancelled.

HOOPLA committee chair Roger Morgan has hope a deal will get done before the Wednesday deadline. Morgan said he has been on the phone with both Becotte and education minister Jeremy Cockrill.

“This impasse isn’t going to last forever, so if HOOPLA was that little bit of a nudge that reopens talks between the two sides, great,” Morgan said.

The STF called on the government Thursday to “agree to binding arbitration to address the contentious issues of class size and complexity.”

Binding arbitration would involve a submission of the dispute to a neutral party, who would provide recommendations to the province and the union.

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Within a few hours, the provincial government shut down the proposal.

“I think school boards understand their school communities best,” Cockrill said.

“I think school divisions want to find ways to support students and teachers, but they need to have the autonomy to do that in their local school communities.”

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