Abbotsford school district has 90 unfilled teacher positions with school year just days away

Hiring blitz has kept the district ‘incredibly busy’ through the summer

The Abbotsford school district “has been incredibly busy” in recent months, filling dozens of teaching positions.

The hiring blitz has seen the district employ 150 new continuing education and full-time teachers since February, according to its spokesperson Kayla Stuckart. But there remain more than 90 unfilled part- and full-time positions as of Monday Aug. 21, she said in an email.

“We are still very much in the hiring phase,” Stuckart said, just over two weeks before classes were set to start for the 2017/18 school year.

Like many B.C. school districts, Abbotsford was forced into a mad scramble to find teachers this year. The BC Liberal government signed a deal in March providing $330 million to fund 2,600 new teacher jobs and comply with a Supreme Court of Canada ruling last year that ended a lengthy court battle over contract language governing class size and special needs support ratios.

“The province’s shift in classroom composition has allowed us to create numerous opportunities for both new teachers and many existing part-time teachers in our district,” Stuckart wrote. “More impressively, we are seeing teacher recruitment from not only the Lower Mainland but from all across Canada, and we believe this speaks to our innovative district and ongoing supports that we provide our staff.

“There has never been a better time to be a teacher with the Abbotsford school district.”

A provincewide hiring spree of this magnitude had been unheard of over more than a decade, so officials had to not only fill jobs but create necessary space for new classrooms. Across B.C., districts converted everything from shop classes to multipurpose rooms into standard classrooms.

RELATED: B.C.’s legal battle with teachers’ unions cost $2.6M

The Abbotsford school district determined it needed to create 35 new classrooms. It has ordered portables, converted computer labs into classrooms and declined to renew lease agreements with daycares located in portables.

The News has requested further details on the hiring efforts and what will happen if positions remain unfilled but have yet to receive a response from the Abbotsford school district.

Elsewhere in B.C., districts have been making similar efforts.

“We hired just over 100 teachers for the classrooms – 102.9 full time equivalent positions,” said Nanaimo and Ladysmith School District spokesperson Dale Burgo.

In Surrey, school district officials had to fill 325 positions, according to spokesperson Doug Strachan, and closed 60 postings just last week.

“Our focus is on backfilling to ensure we have enough teachers on the teacher-on-call list,” said Strachan. “A lot of the hirings come from that list. The list is typically 200 long.”

Filling jobs and rearranging learning spaces was a struggle, admitted CEO and superintendent of the Central Okanagan School District Kevin Kaardal.

“Lots of work by lots of very, very committed people,” said Kaardal. “It started back in November when the Supreme Court decision was decided. We got ahead of the curve.”

Kaardal said they’ve hired 170 teachers without trouble, saying the number of came from both the court ruling and some retirements.

“We (also) had to create 59 new learning spaces, including the addition of five portables,” Kaardal added. “We repositioned portables. We actually reopened classrooms that had been closed or repurposed for some other reason.”

RELATED: Province funds 2,600 more teachers

The B.C. education ministry issued a statement this week, saying progress is going well across the province.

“We’ve been advised that most school districts are successfully hiring the teachers they need to be in compliance with the [agreement] with the BCTF – and also to meet local enrolment growth,” the ministry said. “However, there are some recruitment and retention challenges, especially for specialist positions and replenishing teacher-on-call lists.”

The court case cost the government $2.6 million in legal costs. The settlement is to provide a system to carry the province’s public school system to 2019, when the current teacher contract must be renegotiated.


@KelvinGawley
kelvin.gawley@abbynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

SLIDESHOW: Abbotsford’s fourth annual Open Mosque Day

Abbotsford Islamic Centre opens its doors to educate others

Two prolific offenders from Alberta lead RCMP on chase across Fraser Valley

Men first reported in Chilliwack ending with allegedly stolen vehicle in an Abbotsford pond

Arson charge laid in connection to Mission Canadian Tire fire

Charges of Arson with disregard for human life have been laid against 26-year-old Quince Chalifoux

PHOTOS: Wet’suwet’en supporters gather in Abbotsford

Solidarity march sees group of 50 people walk around Downtown Abbotsford

Another Abbotsford resident defrauded with elaborate phone scam

Thieves steal almost $16,000 from one resident, the tenth known victim in last 5 month

VIDEO: 2020 BC Winter Games wrap up in Fort St. John as torch passes to Maple Ridge

More than 1,000 athletes competed in the 2020 BC Winter Games

Winds up to 70 km/hr expected across Metro Vancouver

Winds are expected to subside overnight

Still six cases of COVID-19 in B.C. despite reports of Air Canada passenger: ministry

Health ministry wouldn’t comment on specific flight routes

Fraser Valley Cultural Diversity Awards release nominations

Ceremony takes place on March 12, which includes a dinner, awards program, and a guest speaker.

Violent ends to past Indigenous protests haunt Trudeau government

Trudeau adopted a more assertive tone Friday, insisting the barricade must come down

Fraser Health warns some schools of possible COVID-19 exposure

A sixth COVID-19 patient is a woman in her 30s in the Fraser Health region who recently returned from Iran

High-risk sex offender cuts off ankle bracelet, on the loose in Vancouver: police

Vancouver police said Kirstjon Olson, 38, is a provincial sex offender with 27 court-ordered conditions

Most Read