KTTA: Teacher recruitment to rural areas remains a concern

By Greg Fry
October 13, 2017 - 9:00am

KAMLOOPS — The Kamloops Thompson Teachers' Association would like to see the provincial government spend more money on attracting teachers to rural communities.

Though the Kamloops-Thompson School District reported a week ago it had hired around 90 teachers since January, the district said it still wasn't finished hiring for specialty positions or for teaching positions in the district's outlying areas.

"Well, recruitment and retention is an issue all over the province," says Amanda Jensen, president of the KTTA.  "And with regards to the rural areas in our school district, our school district does a really good job of trying to recruit people. Unfortunately, because it's an issue all over and because now is a really good year for teachers to settle where they really see themselves, often it is very difficult to recruit people to rural communities. So, I think our school district is doing a really good job but I would like to see more done on a provincial level."

Glen Hansman, president of the BC Teachers Federation, says "historically it's been tough to both recruit people as well as to get them to stay for a substantive amount of time" in rural areas.

"And it's a bit of a mixed bag around the province. Some school districts have filled most, if not all of their contract positions," he says. "As of this week, the BC Public School Employers' Association on their website of all the jobs still have around 300 contract positions that are still unfilled."

Hansman is especially concerned about the shortage of teachers teaching on call, known to many people as substitute teachers.

"Because of the people who did the casual work, what in other provinces people refer to as substitute teaching, they're the same people who have been hired into these contract positions. So, a lot of school districts, including Kamloops, have had their lists significantly depleted."

Hansman says the BCTF has bandied about a number of solutions to the recruitment problem.

"From student loan forgiveness programs to getting rid of the bottom (salary) grid so that begining salaries are at least more competitive with the other provinces," he says. "Pay not just for people's moving expenses but perhaps setting them up with a place to live for the first few months and paying the rent given the affordability issues and the lack of rental space available in many communities around the province."

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