The teacher shortage continues to plague Prince George district elementary and secondary schools.
Students returned to classes Tuesday after their two-month summer break and came back to School District 57 schools still struggling to find enough qualified teachers to deal with increasing enrolments.
“Last week I was a little more optimistic, but I did some homework over the weekend and it looks like we have 59 jobs posted still and six of them are (kindergarten and Grade 1),” said Prince George District Teachers’ Association president Daryl Beauregard.
“There’s (openings for) counsellors, there’s learning support (positions), there’s 19 secondary school jobs - not what I’d like to see for the beginning of September.”
Beauregard says Prince George has been dealing with teaching staff shortages for six years and is no different from many cities in Canada where teaching jobs are going unfilled. When there are not enough, schools have no choice but to pull teaching specialists (librarians, counsellors, learning assistants. administrators) away from their jobs and put them into classrooms to meet the demand for more teachers.
SD57, which includes schools in Prince George, McBride, Valemount and Mackenzie, had about 1,000 teachers for 14,700 students in 2022-23.
Beauregard, now in his second year as PGDTA president, said he knows of one school in Dawson Creek last year that was staffed entirely with uncertified teachers.
“We’ve had a shortage for six years in Prince George and last year was the worst,” said Beauregard. “We’ve seen a very sharp increase in the number of hours lost to support kids who are the most vulnerable.”
“Last year we had to hire approximately 20 uncertified teachers and the school district gave them contracts and then they hired another 100 uncertified folks to be on call. This is the most we’ve had this century and it’s a big challenge. These folks, that are doing this work without the proper training and experience, need help from their colleagues and it’s not easy work.”