The Coast Mountains School District has been mostly successful in filling new teaching positions, created thanks to a Supreme Court of Canada decision which restored class size and composition clauses stripped from teachers’ contracts by the provincial government in the last decade.
The school district received $490,000 from the province out of the $50 million it distributed early this year to create 1,000 teaching positions across the province.
That resulted in 14 positions, mostly part time, for schools in Terrace, Kitimat and Hazelton. It also included a posting for a psychologist which school district superintenent Katherine McIntosh said was to speed up the diagnosis of students with higher learning needs.
“The intention was to hire [someone till] the end of June to help reduce that wait list of students who are waiting for (a psycho-educational) assessment,” she said.
Terrace and District Teachers’ Union president Mike Wen explained further.
“There is a very large backlog of students waiting for this kind of testing,” he said, adding that students are on a waiting list to get these tests, and teachers requested the district speed up that process.
“The teachers said we need to clear this backlog of testing, to get these kids the help they need as soon as possible, Wen said.
But no one has applied for the position, posted since Jan. 18, something which didn’t surprise McIntosh.
“Those psychologists are hard to come by,” she said, explaining that the district will meet with the teachers’ union again to decide whether to re-post, or use the money for something else.
Of the teaching positions created, eight are for schools in Terrace and six for other schools in the district. All but four have now been filled.
Two part-time social studies teachers were hired at Caledonia Secondary School here, as well as an academic support worker.
There’s a new full time Grade 7 core teacher at Skeena Middle School and a part-time science and math teacher.
Those positions have allowed those schools to open extra courses in the second semester, which starts this month, so that classrooms won’t be so full.
There’s a new full-time intermediate teacher at Uplands and one half-time teacher at Suwilaawks Community School and a half-time teacher for Thornhill Elementary.
Part time teachers were also hired for Kitimat’s Mount Elizabeth Secondary, and for New Hazelton Elementary.
Three part time positions in Kitimat schools were re-posted because no one was found, and that’s the same with a full-time position at Hazelton Secondary.
But with school districts all across B.C. recruiting teachers at the same time, district human resources official Kiran Bath said she felt this district was very successful.
“I think we have done well on our postings,” she said, noting that most of the fifteen positions were filled.
“The first round went really well, and for the four re-posted, I have two teachers that I’m in discussions with.”
Bath added that everyone who was hired was already living in the district, but she is in discussion with a few out of town teachers about the positions still open.
McIntosh said she was also pleased.
“I think we’ve done so well because our committee got together so quickly, came up with a comprehensive plan and our [human resources] department got those postings out pretty much the next day, so we were out in front of a lot of other districts,” she said.
Several of the teachers hired were part-time teachers who took on an extra position to become full time. A few were substitute teachers, or Teachers Teaching On Call (TTOCs), who are now contracted teachers, and one teacher was living here on maternity leave and took a position.
The $490,000 for the new positions will last until the end of June but the province is expected to release millions more dollars across the province next fall, in order to open up additional positions to completely restore class size and composition requirements.