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OACS and OCSTA release new personnel and best practices manuals

Written on February 18th, 2009

Manuals provide details on conflict resolution

Two new manuals published by the Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools (OACS) and the Ontario Christian School Teachers Association (OCSTA) seek to provide information for administrators, teachers and boards about contracts and what to do when conflict arises.

The updated Personnel Manual and a new manual called Best Practices for Employment in Christian Schools were published in the fall of 2008.

OCSTA executive director Diane Stronks and OACS director of advancement Ray Hendriks are attending principal’s meetings with boards and contract partnership committees to review the new manuals. Stronks is presenting the new updates to teachers at the district PD days.

Stronks says it was time for the manuals to be updated and there was a need for more information in the area of conflict resolution. The new Personnel Manual includes a dispute resolution schedule that has a clear procedure for the resolution process.

“I truly believe that in our Christian schools we have to have excellent workplace practices and we need to be aware that just as in regular workplaces there are going to be times where that there are issues,” says Stronks.

She says if there is a professional way to deal with issues that arise with policies and good manuals in place the personal aspect can be taken out of the situation.

“That’s our goal, we want a professional way to deal with the issues that come up,” says Stronks.

Hendriks says the new manuals have prompted employers and employees to review their relationship and the agreements reached.

“(They also) reflect the change just in the nature of the relationship between teachers and schools and our encouragement for both employees and employers to act fairly with each other,” he says.

Because education is important, people should know what their contracts entail, adds Stronks. OCSTA sent a memo to teachers explaining the importance of being familiar with the best practice manual as well to understand basic respect in the workplace and see some of the issues that have arisen.

The OACS and OCSTA each lend support in conflicts — OCSTA provides support to its members, who are typically educators in the schools, and the OACS supports boards and by extension the principals.

The OACS has previously published a number of items that address issues around employment, and the best practices manual seeks to bring those together and add continuity between them.

The manuals reflect changes in the employment standard act and are an encouragement to update current contracts and schedules. Other updates include the terms of duties for teachers and details for how supervision and evaluation of teachers works in progressive growth or discipline.

Hendriks says the best practices manual ensures orientation practices in the school are thorough and excellent.

“(The new manuals) forced us to redefine some of our practices and some of those practices needed to become more current, so I’m excited about that,” says Hendriks.

Stronks says the feedback from members is really positive.

All members on contract partnership committees have been sent e-copy pdfs. Anyone who would like a copy of either manual can contact OCSTA at 877-486-3233 or e-mail office@ocsta.org.