The new school year is about to begin, but School District No. 91 (Nechako Lakes) still has approximately 10 full and part-time vacant teaching positions across the region.
Five of these positions are in the Burns Lake area – these include a couple of teacher on call positions.
According to Mike Skinner, School District 91 assistant superintendent, recruiting has become “increasingly more difficult” since a Supreme Court of Canada decision of late 2016 created a large number of teaching positions across the province.
Although school districts throughout the province face shortages, for ones in rural and remote locations the recruitment challenge is greater because they face competition from larger districts in more populated areas.
“Our human resources staff have worked most of the summer on hiring to help our schools meet their needs for school start up and continue to advertise and recruit,” said Skinner.
“Over the last month we have been successful in hiring several teachers in specialty areas, including math and special education,” he continued. “We are really pleased to have been able to hire 28 new teachers since April.”
Although the district expects to have teachers in all classrooms to start the school year, Skinner anticipates some difficulties filling some day-to-day absences.
“Ideally, we would want eight to 10 teachers hired in School District 91 to fulfill our substitute needs in our communities,” he explained.
The district does have some flexibility in that it if necessary it can hire people who are not certified teachers to act as substitutes, and it has for several years. Skinner said the school district is once again considering this option.
“This option for Burns Lake, and possibly our other communities, will be examined based on Teacher Regulation Branch policy,” he said. “We are actively recruiting and have several applications that our human resources department is looking into this week.”
A Supreme Court of Canada decision of late 2016 found that the former B.C. Liberal government acted incorrectly in 2002 in stripping clauses from a province-wide teachers’ contract dealing with class size, the number of special needs students who can be in any one class and the number of specialist teachers required in schools.
That decision restored those contract clauses, essentially creating a large number of teaching positions which the provincial government then financed and which districts have been struggling to fill since then.
Last June B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Glen Hansman said the ongoing shortage of teachers continued to cause problems for students and was threatening to cause significant disruptions in September.
– With files from Rod Link