September might seem like a long ways away for kids and parents.
However for the local school district – and in communities across British Columbia – the scramble is on to fill teaching positions.
In Princeton there are approximately nine vacant teaching positions, according to Nicola Similkameen District assistant superintendent Jameel Aziz.
Aziz said while that number is historically high, “based on what is happening in British Columbia with the teachers’ shortage, I would say it is not.”
A restructuring of class size and composition in the spring of 2017 created more classrooms and a need to hire 3,000 more teachers.
“We do not have 3,000 more teachers,” he said.
The increased demand has made it easier for teachers to transfer to locations where they most want to live.
“There’s a mass exit out of Vancouver, because they are able to find work in those communities.”
The school district has stepped up its efforts to recruit teachers out of university, traveling to meet with BC graduates and promoting the benefits of moving to the area.
It is also working with recruiters in Ontario, attempting to attract young teachers west.
“I think our district has a lot of plusses for people,” he said, citing affordable housing as a key benefit to Princeton and area.
Should all the positions not be filled before the bell rings in the fall, the district will attempt to fill the empty classrooms temporarily with teachers-on-call.
Some rural school districts have already been forced to hire non-certified teachers.
“We have not had to do that as yet, but I’m not going to say we won’t have to do that in the future.”
Non-certified teachers are essentially specialists, rather than educators.
“Let’s say if we had a mechanics position to fill, we might hire a mechanic.”
Aziz said non-certified teachers require greater training and supervision, and the situation is not ideal.
Princeton Secondary School principal Patrick Kaiser announced earlier this year he is stepping away from administration and back into the classroom, but he will remain in Princeton.
A replacement, Kevin Leach from the Prince George, was recently named.
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