The Coast Mountains School District board met on Nov. 27 in Terrace. Below is a summary of the discussions:
The Board of Education wrote a letter to Minister of Education Rob Fleming about their ongoing difficulties with recruitment and retention of certified teachers.
When class resumed in September, the school district “experienced extreme challenges filling teaching positions and replacement issues,” the letter reads. “A shortage of teachers continues to plague our school district and we are unsure how long the school district and staff can sustain this work with such significant shortages.”
Nineteen full-time teaching positions have been temporarily filled through 23 Letter of Permission applications with the BC Teacher Regulation Branch, of which two have been confirmed. These letters are used to hire someone uncertified when a certified teacher is not available.
Despite ongoing efforts to recruit teachers through a nation-wide campaign, the ability for the school district to attract certified teaching staff is limited, the letter reads, urging the province to take immediate action.
“A coordinated effort by the government implementing provincial incentives or strategies for attracting teachers to rural school districts would effectively reduce the shortage of teaching staff within rural school districts.”
The Board of Education heard from hired contractor Colleen Austin about her plans to revitalize Indigenous languages in the school district curriculum.
Austin was hired on Sept. 5 as the Language Revitalization Coordinator to provide services towards the preservation, promotion and revitalization of First Nations languages within the district.
Part of her work includes developing and implementing a five-year plan for language revitalization for Indigenous languages including Gitxsan, Haisla, Nisga’a, Tsimshian and Wet’suwet’en.
Austin also spoke about encouraging students to become language ambassadors who could represent and talk about the program to other potential learners.
This initiative will be conducted in consultation with a network team of Indigenous Languages Leaders representing the ten local Nations within the school district, the Kermode Friendship Society and the Northwest BC Metis Association as well as other stakeholder groups as necessary, according to the school district.
The Board of Education wrote a letter to Minister of Health Adrian Dix voicing their concerns around the “surging gaping rates among our students,” applauding the provincial government’s plan to enforce tighter restrictions around vaping products.
“However, the Board of Education is concerned that gaping products do not have the same licensing and regulatory requirements as that of tobacco,” writes Shar McCrory, board chair, in the letter.
The Board went on to urge the provincial government to take decisive action and endorse a private member’s bill in the legislature that would implement tighter controls around where vaping products are sold, and would ensure tougher penalties for offenders.
Free pads, tampons
The Board of Education introduced a new policy to make menstrual products free for students.
All schools in SD82 provide students of all gender identities and expressions with free menstrual products starting last September, keeping with provincial policy.
“Lack of access to menstrual products can negatively impact students’ school attendance and their social-emotional well-being,” the new policy reads. “Providing all students with convenient access to free menstrual products helps to support their full participation in school activities, reduces stigma and promotes gender equality.”
The policy will now go on for second and third reading before adoption.
SOGI policy updated
The school district’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) policy was updated to reflect the correct definition for LGBTT2SQQ+. The non-exhaustive acronym includes references to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, two-spirited, queer, or those who are questioning their sexual orientation and gender identity.
The policy was originally adopted in December 2018.