KAMLOOPS - With just a week to go before the school bell rings and class is back in session, there are still 97 vacant teaching positions in the Kamloops-Thompson School District.
From kindergarten to high school math, the District is in desperate need of more teachers. Kamloops Thompson Teachers Association president Amanda Jensen says after years of not enough jobs and a surplus of teachers, the District is now facing the opposite.
"There shouldn't be any classrooms that don't have a teacher in them," she says. "And I know the District is doing everything they can, but that's where our efforts need to be right now."
Jensen admits it is exciting to finally see so many opportunities out there, but at the same time there is a shortage of teachers across the province. She is concerned there won't be enough people to do the job.
Even if the District manages to fill those positions, Jensen is worried about the conditions those teachers will be working in. The City recently approved zoning changes for several schools in order to add more portables.
"There are a lot of problems with (portables). The most concerning being they aren't comfortable to be in," she says. "They are hot in the summer and cold in the winter. They don't have adequate facilities so if you have to go to the bathroom you are going into the school and often they don't have things like running water."
Jensen wonders why the District continues to buy portables instead of reopening school buildings that remain empty. She says students should have the opportunity to learn in a proper environment.
"Just knowing what we know about those buildings it wouldn't take a whole lot to reopen them," she says. "Sure, it's probably going to cost a bit of money to get them painted and fixed up, but now we're purchasing a whole bunch of portables that at some point we won't need anymore and we will have a difficult time selling those assets off."
Meantime, the School District has issued a press release saying they are prepared and ready for the new school year. Registration for students new to the District is taking place today, Aug. 29, and will run until Thursday, Aug. 31 from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
With the exception of kindergarten students, schools will open on Tuesday, Sept. 5, at 10 a.m. with elementary schools attending until noon and secondary schools dismissed at 3 p.m.
A potential challenge for the School District officials this year are the kids who are still evacuated from their home communities due to the wildfires in B.C. While the District does have a plan in place to deal with the extra students, and none will be turned away, at this point there have been no parents calling to ask if their students can attend a Kamloops school while evacuated.
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