British Columbia

'We're ready to go': No teacher shortage here, says Surrey School District

Spokesperson says students have permanent teachers now in place

CBC News

September 16, 2017

After a summer of concern leading up to the beginning of the school year, the Surrey School District says 2017 is right on track with previous years. (CBC)

The Surrey School District has all the teachers it needs and 2017 is right on track with previous years in terms of staffing, its spokesperson says.

"We're at where we usually are at this point of the year," Doug Strachan told host Stephen Quinn during CBC's On the Coast.

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Strachan said while there is still some "sorting out to do", none of it is out of the ordinary and students do have permanent teachers in his district.

"Just to clarify ... We have 30 to 40 job postings, but's important to understand these positions are in the district and it's not unusual at this time of year."

Strachan's assurance comes after Surrey school administrators faced a challenging ten months leading up to the start of the school year in September.

Challenges included accomodating roughly 1,200 new students this year in the district due to population growth. Plus, they had to hire around 300 new teachers and set up more than 168 classrooms.

Parents raised concerns

The chair of the Surrey District Parents Advisory Committee Karen Tan says parents have been very vocal about their concerns.

She says due to the speed that new teachers are being hired, parents have been asking if proper criminal record or background checks are being carried out while hiring.

Tan is also concerned about a possible lack of substitute teachers as the year progresses.

"Teachers do get sick, so we wonder if classes will go without a teacher or if they will pull resources from somewhere else," said Tan.

Strachan said while it has been a "monumental" task getting everything in place this year, parents have no need for concern.

There is a large list of on-call teachers that the district continues to hire to year-round, and there shouldn't be any trouble finding substitutes, he said. and even if the on-call list does run short, the district has contingencies in place like moving teachers in from other positions.

Further, Strachan stressed extensive background checks have been carried out on all new hires. 

"We hired additional human resources staffing early in the year," said Strachan. "They've been helping hiring and recruiting and we have the same rigour applied to our hiring that we always do."

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Doug Strachan with the Surrey, B.C. school district says staffing needs have been met in his district and 2017 is right on track with previous years.  8:02

With files from On the Coast

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