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October 05
13:30 2018

The teachers of Claver College Extension (CCE), in Punta Gorda, have agreed to a meeting with members of the school’s board to resolve a dispute which has seen the school dismiss 9 of its 11 teachers on staff, sparking a week-long demonstration by students supporting their instructors.

That meeting was scheduled for late Thursday evening as the Reporter goes to press. We will have updates following the outcome of the meeting. Students and teachers have been vocal since last week, taking the matter to the media and seeking support from the Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU). Teachers had met with the union last Thursday, however, the union determined it was not in a position to bargain on behalf of the teachers since the status of the board is unclear being there are only two active members. The Reporter also understands that even though the school is a Catholic-run institution, the managing authority for the Church has not been active in the school’s management.

Board Chairperson, Lisel Alamilla was reportedly invited to attend the meeting on Thursday night. It is unclear if she responded to the invitation. The meeting was called by the other active board member, Treasurer Mark Miller. Reports from the school indicate that other board members handed in their resignations because they felt excluded from making key decisions regarding the school.

Alamilla, who the Reporter sought comment from but could not reach, told the media last week that board members simply haven’t been showing up to meetings. The original dispute began when the school presented teachers with a proposal to pay their salaries every two months instead of the regular pay period every two weeks. The teachers refused to sign the new agreement and staged a sick-out, leading to nine teachers receiving their termination letters. The school is a private institution and the Ministry of Education said last week that it was only observing the situation and would only become involved if necessary. Minister of Education, Patrick Faber, had also said that Alamilla’s involvement in the matter was purely incidental since she is no longer a minister of government and hasn’t been appointed to the school’s board on the government’s behalf.

Alamilla had said the school is not in a financial position to continue paying teachers every two weeks. Teachers, however, say there have been instances in the past when the payroll was not met on time but teachers were willing to cooperate with the institution. The students began their demonstrations on Monday evening with the majority of the school’s 85 students participating in the protest. Several other teachers had been hired to replace the teachers that were terminated.


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