Central Okanagan avoids teacher shortage plaguing other school districts | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Central Okanagan avoids teacher shortage plaguing other school districts

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October 06, 2017 - 4:30 PM

KELOWNA - School districts across B.C. are reporting a shortage of available teachers but the Central Okanagan hasn’t had the same trouble hiring them as other areas, the head of the Central Okanagan Teachers Association says.

Susan Bauhart says the lure of the Okanagan lifestyle and real estate prices that aren’t yet over the moon were likely incentives for many looking to teach here.

"Human resources here have done a very good job filling the positions,” Bauhart adds. “Mind you, doesn’t hurt that they have a good product to sell.”

The district has added 131 teachers for a total of 1,661 filling the equivalent of 1,344 full-time jobs, Bauhart says, and if there is a need, it is for substitute teachers to augment the full-time roster.

The province-wide hiring binge is the result of the 2016 B.C. Supreme Court ruling that restored contract language governing classroom size and composition.

It was a victory for the provincial teachers federation in a long-running dispute with the provincial government but has resulted in the need for as many as 3,500 new teachers, although not all will be hired this year.

“They are restoring the (contract) language but it isn’t going to happen overnight,” she adds.

If there is turmoil in the district, Bauhart says it’s more likely from the number of internal transfers requested by teachers to different schools within the Central Okanagan.

“There’s been a big internal migration,” she adds, with at least 50 per cent more requests for local transfers than in past years. “Usually you associate people with their schools but this year everyone’s having to ask 'what school are you in', or 'are you still at the same school?'”

Bauhart says she’s heard horror stories from other school districts of classes being taught in tents, but says the school district managed to find classroom space for everyone.

“CUPE (support staff) did a great job getting everything ready and there was a monumental effort by everyone, even with all this stuff going on... fires, the flood,” Bauhart adds.

The Central Okanagan school district has approximately 21,000 students.

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