The Quesnel school district is hoping to hire enough certified teachers for the 2018-19 school year. File photo

SD 28 hires new principals, recruits more teachers

Teacher shortage affecting Quesnel as local district tries to attract more certified employees

School District 28 has appointed one new principal and will see a number of administration shifts at local elementary schools for the 2018-19 school year.

Joelle Withey will become principal of Kersley Elementary School from Aug. 1, 2018, relocating from Prince George. Withey is currently vice principal at Spruceland Traditional Elementary School in School District 57.

She holds a Bachelor of Education and a Masters of Education in counselling.

“She’ll be a great addition to our district leadership team,” says Gloria Jackson, chair of the school board.

Withey replaces Beth Collingwood, who will take up the principal position at Lakeview Elementary. Collingwood previously worked as a principal and teacher at Wells-Barkerville Elementary.

Moving on from Lakeview is Stephen Hawkins-Bogle, who will become principal at Red Bluff Lhtako Elementary. Hawkins-Bogle has also served as principal of Carson Elementary and vice principal of the now-closed École Baker Elementary.

Red Bluff Lhtako will also see a new vice principal role added. Mike Tate will become half-time vice principal at the school, sharing his time with Voyageur Elementary, where he also serves as vice principal half-time. He previously also taught on a half-time basis at Voyageur. Tate previously worked as temporary vice principal at École Baker.

“We saw some need for a vice principal position at Red Bluff Lhtako Elementary, so we decided to try this [half-time position,]” explains Jackson.

“We are so fortunate to have such experienced principals and vice principals in our district.”

While there are ample administrative leaders in School District 28, the B.C. Teachers’ Federation this week released a press release saying a B.C. teacher shortage has caused concern in the industry.

Quesnel currently has nine full-time teaching jobs held by non-certified employees.

“It’s now [June] and there are still reports of non-certified teachers working in classrooms, students with special needs losing out on their programs or being sent home, and hundreds of classes with class compositions that don’t meet the learning needs of students. While there were some announcements in February to slightly increase teacher education spots, the lack of bold action and provincial co-ordination means the shortage will make the next school year challenging as well,” said BCTF president Glen Hansman.

SD 28 school board chair Jackson says the body has been on a recruitment drive, hoping to attract enough certified teachers to the city for the 2018-19 school year.

“Our HR department has been at recruiting fairs in Saskatchewan, Kamloops and throughout the region and province, and really trying hard to recruit,” she comments.

“It’s our hope that when we post positions this year that we will be able to fill them with certified teachers, but we now have a good list of non-certified teachers we could put in classrooms if we need to.”

Jackson says all non-certified teachers are required to hold a degree, go through an intensive interview process and take training given by the school district.

“We have already put out postings for positions in 2018-19. We will continue to post throughout the summer until all positions are filled for the start of the school year.”

Some of the proposals the BCTF has put forward to address the teacher shortage include housing and moving allowances; mentorship programs to support retention of new teachers; waiving fees for retired teachers hoping to re-certify; expanding access to the rural and remote living allowance; a student loan forgiveness program; a shortened salary grid to make teachers’ starting wages more competitive with other provinces; and financial assistance for teachers seeking additional qualifications.

Research from the BCTF shows the minimum salary for a B.C. teacher with a category 5 qualification ranks 12th out of 13 provinces and territories. B.C.’s maximum category 5 salary ranks 10th.

A category 5 teacher holds a bachelor’s degree and a Bachelor of Education.

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