B.C. school districts fight to find space, hire teachers

Hundreds of new teachers hired after Supreme Court decision

Despite the mad scramble earlier this year, most school districts in B.C. are on track to fill hundreds of new teaching positions.

The BC Liberal government signed a deal in March providing $330 million to fund 2,600 new teacher jobs and comply with a Supreme Court of Canada ruling last year that ended a lengthy court battle over contract language governing class size and special needs support ratios.

RELATED: B.C.’s legal battle with teachers’ unions cost $2.6M

That kind of a hiring spree had been unheard of over more than a decade, so officials had to not only fill jobs but create necessary space for new classrooms. Across B.C., districts converted everything from shop classes to multipurpose rooms into standard classrooms.

“We hired just over 100 teachers for the classrooms – 102.9 full time equivalent positions,” said Nanaimo and Ladysmith School District spokesperson Dale Burgo.

In Surrey, school district officials had to fill 325 positions, according to spokesperson Doug Strachan, and closed 60 postings just last week.

“Our focus is on backfilling to ensure we have enough teachers on the teacher-on-call list,” said Strachan. “A lot of the hirings come from that list. The list is typically 200 long.”

RELATED: Surrey scrambling to fill teacher-on-call lists

Filling jobs and rearranging learning spaces was a struggle, admitted CEO and superintendent of the Central Okanagan School District Kevin Kaardal.

“Lots of work by lots of very, very committed people,” said Kaardal. “It started back in November when the Supreme Court decision was decided. We got ahead of the curve.”

RELATED: Province funds 2,600 more teachers

Kaardal said they’ve hired 170 teachers without trouble, saying the number of came from both the court ruling and some retirements.

“We (also) had to create 59 new learning spaces, including the addition of five portables,” Kaardal added. “We repositioned portables. We actually reopened classrooms that had been closed or repurposed for some other reason.”

The B.C. education ministry issued a statement this week, saying progress is going well across the province.

“We’ve been advised that most school districts are successfully hiring the teachers they need to be in compliance with the [agreement] with the BCTF – and also to meet local enrolment growth,” the ministry said. “However, there are some recruitment and retention challenges, especially for specialist positions and replenishing teacher-on-call lists.”

The court case cost the government $2.6 million in legal costs. The settlement is to provide a system to carry the province’s public school system to 2019, when the current teacher contract must be renegotiated.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vees secure 4-1 win against Wenatchee

On Saturday night the Vees take on the Wild again at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

Penticton massage therapist suspended following allegations of sexual misconduct

While suspended, Leonard Krekic is not entitled to practice as an RMT in B.C.

Raffle tickets sold at first two Vees playoff games raising money for CT scan machine

The playoffs commence on Feb. 27 followed by game two on Feb. 28

WATCH: Van, tools stolen from Penticton company facing third theft in one month

An Eckert Electric Ltd. van was stolen this morning at gas station with employees close by

Gas drops below a dollar per litre in Penticton

Two stores in Penticton have gas below a dollar.

VIDEO: B.C. senior recalls ‘crazy’ wartime decision to grab bear cub from den

Henry Martens – now 96 – says he was lucky to be alive after youthful decision to enter a bear’s den

Pawsative Pups: You have a new puppy, now what?

Lisa Davies is a new columnist for Black Press who writes about dog training

Loans or gifts? Judge rules woman must pay B.C. man back $7K

B.C. judge rules that woman must pay back more than $7,000 in advanced funds to man

VIDEO: Outpouring of worldwide support for bullied Australian boy

Australian actor Hugh Jackman said ‘you are stronger than you know, mate’

‘A horror show:’ Ex-employee shares experience at problematic Chilliwack seniors’ home

Workers are paid below industry standard at all Retirement Concepts facilities

Forest industry protests northern B.C. caribou protection deal

B.C. Mining Association supports federal-Indigenous plan

Youth-led report calls on B.C. government to create plan to end youth homelessness

There are no dedicated programs for youth homelessness at federal, provincial level, report says

Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen adopts 2020 budget

$57.9 million budget is 11.2 per cent higher than last year’s amount

Regional district gives approval for farm worker housing near Summerland

Application is for 41-bedroom facility to be constructed in Meadow Valley area

Most Read