1 week after start of classes, hundreds of B.C. teaching positions remain open
Numbers are fluctuating daily but the shortage is causing disruptions to some classes
It's been more than a week since students returned to the classroom in B.C., but hundreds of teaching positions across the province still need to be filled.
The numbers are fluid, but as of Wednesday there are around 400 teachings jobs still posted on the web site Make A Future, which serves as a job board for B.C. teachers.
"The number keeps changing daily," said Gordon Swan, president of the B.C. School Trustees Association.
The BCSTA said this year is a transitional year and districts are having to adapt accordingly.
"Where there are some shortcomings, we know that principals and vice principals — as they always have — are stepping into those roles to ensure that every child has a teacher in front of them in their classes this year."
Swan said, in addition to teachers who have to be hired in response to the Supreme Court of Canada decision, every year between 300 and 400 teachers retire.
He said this year there are also around 230 new positions that have been created because of increased enrollment.
B.C. Teachers Federation president Glen Hansman said progress is being made but there's still "a long way to go."
The problem now, he said, is the ripple effect the shortage is having on teachers on call.
"We've depleted the reserve of teachers teaching on call — the people who would be filling in for contract teachers when they're absent," said Hansman.
"Already this school year, we're seeing disruptions to programs for students for special needs, English language learners and others whose specialist teachers ... are temporarily reassigned when the school district is unable to fill an absense."
Vacancies normal at start of year
The Ministry of Education released a statement on Wednesday that said the province's 60 school districts are in the middle of filling the 3,500 new positions, adding that it's normal to have empty positions at the start of the school year.
"There is never a year when we don't have vacancies this time of year, so the pace and cycle are normal," the ministry said.
According to the Ministry, this time last year there were 249 postings on the Make A Future website, compared to around 400 this year.
The Ministry said it's asking school districts to report hiring as of Sept. 30, and the actual number of teacher and specialists hired will not be known until later in fall 2017.