Anglophone school districts look to fill 175 job vacancies

Anglophone school districts will have to fill 175 openings next year, partly because more and more teachers are retiring as soon as they can, the president of the New Brunswick Teachers' Association says.

5 principal jobs are coming up in the Anglophone West School District

George Daley, president of the New Brunswick Teachers' Association, said the organization is concerned by the number of retirements across the board. (CBC News)

Anglophone school districts will have to fill 175 openings next year, partly because more and more teachers are retiring as soon as they can, the president of the New Brunswick Teachers' Association says.

George Daley expects up to 200 teachers a year will retire over the next several years, and he's hoping newly trained teachers will stay in the region to fill those jobs.

"We're starting to pay attention to it because it is higher than what we had expected," he said.

Because of changes in the job, an increasing number of teachers are retiring as soon as they can, he said. This also applies to administrators, whose role is not well understood by the public, he said.

"The demands on teachers, on administrators, has drastically changed in the last 10 years."

The 175 job vacancies in anglophone districts include five principal jobs coming up in the Anglophone West School District.  

Social media plays a part

Daley said social media have shaped how teachers and administrators view their jobs and how long they want to stay in them.

Parents have a right to express their concerns about their children, he said, but using social media is not an appropriate way.

"If something happens at a school, it ends up on Facebook," Daley said. "It ends up on different social media forums."

As a result, the district office often gets involved in the issues parents raise.

"That all falls into the whole weight that sits on a teacher's shoulders when they go to school everyday."

He said teachers have been talking about educating parents on what should and shouldn't be posted on social media. That conversation is expected to continue with parents.

A need for school psychologists

A shortage of school psychologists has also played a part in the early retirement of teachers and administrators, he said.

"When there's shortages in those areas, all of that falls back to the school administrator," he said. 

The province's anglophone school districts have a total of 29 positions for psychologists, but at the beginning of this year, employed only 11 or 12, Daley has said. Since then, the number has dropped to seven or eight.

He said there's also a need for more resource teachers in New Brunswick schools and for supply teachers.

"We do have a lot of days in the province where we can't find supply teachers," he said. "If you can't find a teacher to fill a classroom, guess who it falls back on? The school administrator."  

In November, Daley cited a report by Gordon Porter and Angela AuCoin that recommended having one resource teacher per 120 students in the province, which he said would be a step forward.

In 2017 he said the ratio was about one to 220.

NBTA president George Daley says the teacher's association is concerned with the higher than usual number of retirements across the province, including teachers and principals. He says they're "by no means in a crisis situation, but it's starting to catch our attention". 18:28

"You have a student who's struggling on a particular day and there's nobody else in the building to support you, guess who gets it? It's that school administrator."

CBC News tried to talk to Education Minister Brian Kenny, who hasn't responded.