Teacher Recruitment and Retention a ‘Crisis’ Situation in Mackenzie
Mackenzie, B.C. – Plenty of concern in Mackenzie where schools in that rural community are having difficult recruiting teachers.
“I believe we’re are in a crisis situation regarding the recruitment and hiring of teachers,” said Shannon Pride, a teacher at Morfee Elementary, this week. “Despite the support of HR and senior administrators they’ve had difficulty hiring qualified ttoc’s (substitute teachers) in recent years.”
She says the situation worsened this year when the only qualified ttoc (a tttoc with a teacher’s certificate) at Morfee Elementary moved into a full-time teaching position at the school.
“This job has been posted and no one has applied for or has been hired for the rest of the school year. We’re a large school (22 teachers) and there’s someone away every day,” said Pride.
“Often more than one. So, when there’s a sickness or we have no coverage, if people need time off for any extended leave – like medical or bereavement – they need to plan while they are away or it falls on our administrator if our unqualified teachers (ttoc’s without a teachers’ certificate) are unable to plan educational programs.”
She said the situation is the same at Mackenzie Secondary School, where they had posted a job last summer which was not filled until January.
“From September to January that course was taught by an unqualified teacher. This is not acceptable. The students here deserve to be taught by qualified teachers.”
Pride figures things will only get worse now that extra positions are needed to be filled following the BCTF’s Supreme Court of Canada victory last November.
“I’m afraid this is nothing in comparison to what awaits us in September due to the fact the Liberal government has not supported schools for the last 15 years to the level they were supposed to,” she said.
“This is good news for public education but I feel bad for Mackenzie as we are now competing with every school district in the province to hire qualified teachers. We had a hard time recruiting teachers befoe and it’ll be almost impossible now.”
Pride suggested incentives be used to lure teachers there -for instance paying a percentage of student loans teachers are carrying.
Prince George School Board Chair Tim Bennett is well aware of the “crisis” and admitted he’s concerned.
“The concern right now is we don’t have enough ttoc’s in Mackenzie and Heaven Forbid an illness went through the school.”
As for using incentives as a tool to draw teachers to Mackenzie, he had this to say “Those types of incentives are part of the bargaining process. So, those would need to be conversations between the BCTF and BCPSEA or the PGDTA and the school district.”
He admits though the issue is on trustees’ minds across the province right now.
“Both our district and the Northern Interior branch of the BC School Trustees Association are pushing government for these types of measures whether its tax breaks and loan assistance,” says Bennett.
“This past weekend our Board and boards across the North joined together to bring forward a motion to BCSTA which passed – asking our provincial association to advocate for the recruitment and retention of teachers in northern, rural and remote communities.”