Housing shortage causes Lutsel K'e teachers to leave

Teacher retention is a major issue for the people of Lutsel k'e largely due to a lack of housing, an education authority said.
Teacher retention is an issue for the community of Lutsel K’e in large part due to a lack of housing.

Teacher retention is a major issue for the people of Lutsel K’e largely due to a lack of housing, an education official said.

As the election approaches, the people of Lutsel K’e hope the issues surrounding teacher retention are made a priority.

Emily Saunders, with the district education authority, spent years lobbying for teacher housing.

"We have a housing issue here in the community so it's getting harder to retain the teachers that are doing so well for our students here," Saunders said.

Teacher Elizabeth Catholique said if she wasn’t able to stay with her mother — who lives in Lutsel k’e  — she would not be able to stay, even though she thinks the high turnover of teachers take a negative toll on the kids.

"I don't think I would be sticking around here because there's no place for me to stay. I would have been gone a long time ago."

However, many — like the new principal William Gowans — are still looking for places to rent a month after school already started.

When Gowan arrived he didn’t expect finding a place to live would be this difficult.

"It's been a very unpleasant experience for me and on top of that here I am going into my second month here in Lutsel K'e and I'm focused on housing when really a hundred percent of my focus should be on student education and student learning," Gowan said.

Gowan said he might have to resort to renting an un-furnished government home for nearly twice the rent he planned to pay plus the cost of furniture.

The effect of teachers coming and going is showing on the students.

The school’s only Grade 12 student, Jake Basile, said he used to be a class clown but his attitude towards education and being present at school improved greatly after bonding with a particular teacher.

After that teacher left Basile said he felt let down.

"And then [with] him leaving just like that you kind of feel betrayed," Basile said.

Saunders hopes the next assembly will make teacher retention a priority and that something will finally change.