12 additional teachers hired to keep up with influx of P.E.I. newcomers

P.E.I.'s Public Schools Branch has hired 12 additional teachers in the last 10 days to deal with the influx of 241 new immigrant students over the summer.

Government budgeted an extra $1.25 million for 25 potential new positions

'We had to demonstrate the need, but we could do that ahead of time instead of afterwards,' says the PSB's Parker Grimmer. (Shutterstock)

P.E.I.'s Public Schools Branch (PSB) has hired 12 additional teachers in the last 10 days to deal with the influx of 241 new immigrant students over the summer.

The PSB oversees all 56 English public schools across the province. 

PSB Director Parker Grimmer said this is part of a new approach by the Education Department. 

Grimmer said in the past, the department would wait for the numbers of new students to come in, and then look for funding for teachers afterwards.

Extra money set aside

This year, Grimmer said the province is trying to better respond to the sudden and unpredictable influx of new immigrant students.  

Grimmer says more teachers could be hired if enough new students show up. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

"We had to demonstrate the need, but we could do that ahead of time instead of afterwards. And all that can be sorted out rather quickly so there is that stability moving forward after the first week or so," he said.

Last year, hundreds of new students showed up at mostly Charlottetown-area schools — more students than the schools had been staffed for.

Grimmer said the department scrambled in November to come up with funding to hire 41 educators to start work in December or January. 

"There was an additional 41 positions for education. Both teacher and educational assistant positions, and they've remained. They've remained into this year."

Grimmer said to be better prepared this fall, government budgeted $1.25 million for 25 potential new teaching or educational assistant positions to be added if the numbers justified it. 

Potential for more positions

He said there are two enrolment number checks the first week of school, and others during the school year, so there could be more positions added, if enough new students show up.

"The work that was done this summer really showed the new students coming, and exactly where and what schools, what grades," he said.

Grimmer said all but a few of the new hires will be working at Charlottetown-area schools. 

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With files from Steve Bruce