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HomeNewsTeacher shortages for SD54 in the fall? Superintendent Chris van der Mark...

Teacher shortages for SD54 in the fall? Superintendent Chris van der Mark doesn’t think so

“The ongoing shortage of classroom teachers, teachers teaching on call (TTOCs), and specialists continue to cause problems for students with less than a month to go in the current school year—and now, the shortage is threatening to cause significant disruptions in September,” said BC Teachers’ Federation President, Glen Hansman.

This was the speech that was issued by Hansman today and it is leaving residents of the Bulkley Valley and Lakes District wondering, “what is the current outlook for teachers heading into the fall semester for SD54?”

Well, we have SD54 Superintendent, Chris van der Mark with his take on things.

“We’ve been fairly fortunate here in SD54, in the sense that we really haven’t dealt with teaching shortages. Certainly, it has created some challenges but we haven’t had to deal with major issues that other school districts are dealing with across the province. People who have students in the SD54 system will be happy to know we will continue operating at full capacity and don’t expect this announcement to have any impact on the way we do business.”

Some issues highlighted by the BC Teachers Federation included 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.

Hansman says that the teacher shortage in BC has become such a concern that the BCTF was forced to launch a provincial grievance, which is now in arbitration.

“The key issues we want to be addressed by that arbitration are the failure to have sufficient TTOCs available to fill in for absent classroom teachers, as well as, the impact of pulling specialist teachers away from their students, who are among the most vulnerable.”

Some of the proposals the BCTF has put forward to address the teacher shortage include the following:
· housing and moving allowances accessible in all school districts
· mentorship programs to support retention of new teachers
· waiving fees for retiring teachers trying to recertify
· expanding access to the current rural and remote living allowance
· a student loan forgiveness program
· a shortened salary grid to make teachers’ starting wages more competitive with other provinces
· financial assistance for current teachers seeking additional qualifications in specialty areas.

van der Mark says he has one major issue with this announcement.

“People love to focus on the negatives and so when they hear there’s a teacher shortage, they immediately panic. I think it’s important to note that last year, the teaching sector hired more than 3,700 teaching professionals, that’s an amazing feet. If any other sector saw that boost, they would see it as good news and not bad. People need to understand there isn’t some major catastrophe going on and things are certainly going to be alright. Parents and students can rest assured that SD54 will continue to provide a high level of both service and education heading into September, 2018.”

Something going on in the Bulkley Valley Lakes District you think people should know about?
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