As other school districts across the province struggle to fill teaching positions, New Westminster has proven to be an attractive option for prospective teachers.
Since March 2017, New Westminster has been actively recruiting new teachers to help fill vacancies in the district caused by the 2016 Supreme Court of Canada decision that sided with B.C. teachers over language in their contract regarding class size and composition.
The district’s recruitment strategy is competitive, but it’s the size of the district itself that’s proving to be the biggest draw for teachers seeking employment, according to superintendent Karim Hachlaf.
“It has a lot of appeal to staff,” he told the Record.
“Our ability to connect with new teachers in terms of our geography and just the climate of a small district and having that community feel has been feedback we’ve received from our new recruits.”
Since May, the district has posted 158 teaching positions, and it’s been able to fill them all. It’s also filled 140 education assistant positions in recent months, according to Hachlaf.
“Our team has done a great job of our ongoing recruitment effort and of managing all the postings, and that certainly has intensified over the summer months as well, as we get ready for September,” he said.
“We’ve done very well to not face some of the shortages faced across the province.”
New Westminster, however, hasn’t been immune to the shortages plaguing the province’s teacher-on-call lists. Last year, there were instances where school administration had to cover for a sick teacher, Hachlaf said.
Because hiring is an ongoing process, teachers on call are finding themselves with full-time employment. This means the teacher-on-call list needs to be replenished regularly, according to Hachlaf.
To avoid empty on-call lists New Westminster is hiring on-call teachers on a contract basis to ensure they have a committed pool of TOCs, Hachlaf said.
“We’re still in a good position with our on-call team for teachers for the start of the new year, but it’s an ongoing process; it never ends,” he added.
And that’s the case with recruitment in general in the district. With school back in session, Hachlaf said he and his staff will know soon if they need to hire more teachers or support staff.