London Catholic schools on a hiring blitz after student enrolment spikes
The London District Catholic School Board is hoping to hire 75 new full and part-time teachers
As students get ready to return to class next week, officials at the region's Catholic school board say they're looking for hundreds of new staff to keep up with unprecedented enrolment this fall.
The London District Catholic School Board has an additional 2,000 students this year, bringing enrolment up to an unprecedented 26,000. It now needs to fill nearly 200 positions, including as many as 75 teachers, said Susan Nickle, a superintendent with the board.
"It's the equivalent of three to four schools worth of new students, so we need the staff to support that," she said
The board employs 3,800 staff and wants to hire new teachers, principals, vice-principals and educational support staff over the school year. To make sure there's enough room for the extra students, 44 portables have been installed in locations throughout the Catholic school system.
The Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) is also hiring, trying to get more support staff, officials said.
Educational assistants, speech and language pathologists and psychological services staff are among the nine support staff job openings on the board's website.
"We are confident that supports will be in place for students and staff when school begins next week," a spokesperson told CBC News in an email.
Unions representing elementary and high school teachers say they're confident there are enough teachers going into the new school year.
There are currently 28 occasional and supply teaching opportunities posted on the TVDSB website, with 22 of them being emergency supply teachers.
Emergency supply teachers do not have to be registered with the Ontario College of Teachers, but have to have an education background. They must also be enrolled in a third-year university program.
More staff needed, union says
More support staff is required to keep up with students' needs as enrolment increases, said Mary Henry, the president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 4222, which represents custodians and early childhood educators, among others.
"The feedback we're getting [from TVDSB] is there just hasn't been any additional funds provided from the government in order to meet staffing needs," Henry said.
According to statistics provided by the union, 16.5 per cent of all designated early childhood educators and care-for-newcomer-children positions were left unfilled across TVDSB schools in April 2023. The current level of need has not been updated.
Ministry announces additional funding for education
Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced more than $800 million in funding for the province at a news conference in Thornhill, Ont., on Monday.
The ministry said nearly $700 million will be allocated for base education, and $109 million will go toward boosting literacy rates and hiring nearly 2,000 educators. Of those new hires, 700 teachers will focus on literacy, 300 will focus on math and about 940 will focus on Grades 7 to 10, said the province.
In addition to the funding, the government estimates that the continuing Supports for Students Fund will add between 1,600 and 1,800 education workers to the province.
But all those educators and education workers will be spread across the 4,800 schools in Ontario and won't be ready for the fall semester, said Laura Walton, the president of the Ontario School Board Council of Unions.
"Expecting that people are going to be hired and in place [by then] is very short-sighted," Walton said.
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With files from Matt Allen