Substitute Teacher Shortage in SD57
Prince George, B.C. – The president of the Prince George and District Teachers’ Association says a shortage of Teachers Teaching on Call (commonly known as substitute teachers) in School District 57 has created “a crisis.”
Richard Giroday says it stems from the $1.26 million the District received as part of January’s interim agreement between the BCTF and the provincial government whereby Victoria provided school districts $50 million as a first step to addressing the union’s victory in the Supreme Court of Canada regarding class size and composition in November.
Though he’s glad to see that action is being taken to ensure the union’s contract language is being restored (it was illegally stripped in 2002), he says it’s led to a shortage of TTOCs.
Giroday points out that the $1.26 million created 67 job postings in the District. He says 32 of those were filled internally and says 19 of the remaining 35 have been filled taking about 25 TTOCs out of the bank they already had.
“The filling of those positions has created a crisis – a shortage of TTOCs. And this shortage has created constraints on our system that have serious repercussions.”
He notes the shortage has forced the District to “claw back all teacher leaves that are non-contractual.”
“Contractual leaves are leaves such as bereavement leave, sick leave, family responsibility leave. Non-contractual leaves are things like professional development, unpaid leave requests, sports tournaments,” says Giroday.
He says one of the consequences of clawing back non-contractual leave is that teachers who coach sports can no longer travel with their teams if there is no TTOC to fill in.
“That’s going to really affect sports programs. I know as a math teacher myself, I would take students to a math contest at CNC but those types of things won’t be taking place anymore because there’s no TTOCs to cover classes.”
He says another side effect is that some districts are looking to hire uncertified teachers.
“When you have a problem and you can’t get certified teachers – often times we’ll consider somebody who already has some university education – either a four-year degree of three years in university – and use them as TTOCs,” says Giroday. “Now we’re going to have to go back to that. I know in Mackenzie and McBride we use those individuals.”
Prince George School District Superintendent Marilyn Marquis-Forster says this challenge “was predicted” when the District received the new money.
“We knew that we would find ourselves in that position if things rolled out the way we expected them to and indeed that happened,” she says.
“We have posting for TTOC teachers and it’s a difficult time in the year for someone to consider relocating to Prince George. And so, we do continue to advertise and we will continue to hire as appropriate candidates become available for our supply teacher list.”
But over time, Marquis-Forster is hopeful the situation will improve.
“We certainly hope so and we have every intention of recruiting and staffing diligently and keeping at that task.”