Substitute teachers sought in Nanaimo

Nanaimo school district is to add 10-20 teachers to the teacher-on-call list.

Nanaimo school district is hiring more substitute teachers.

Chris Southwick, assistant superintendent, said district officials are looking to add 10-20 teachers to the teacher-on-call list, which has about 200 names on it, to ensure there are enough people to cover absences.

The district also hired about 25 elementary and secondary substitute teachers in December.

The hirings are significant because for the past couple of years, the list has only been open to new candidates in certain specialty areas, such as shop or music teachers, said Southwick.

“It’s encouraging that there are some jobs out there for some people,” she said. “The big issue is that there’s fewer students, so we don’t keep adding to our roster. And even though we have a number of people who are eligible to retire, people are choosing not to retire.”

Southwick said people want to work and live in Nanaimo, so it is harder to get a job here. She also believes universities are producing too many students.

Justin Green, first vice-president of the Nanaimo District Teachers’ Association, said in recent years, only teachers who specialize in certain subject areas such as physical education or upper level sciences, are considered for the TOC list.

“This one it became evident that there’s just not enough elementary generalists,” he said. “It’s good in the fact that we’re not going to have instances of not filling vacancies.”

On the other hand, the more people on the list, the less opportunities for employment, said Green.  TOCs currently average about 70 callouts a year in the district, although some teachers are also on TOC lists for other school districts and aren’t available all the time.

“It’s a balancing act,” he said.

Green said there’s been instances in past months where a substitute teacher could not be found even though there were no training sessions that pulled a number of teachers from their classrooms.

When this happens, a non-enrolling teacher at the school, such as the teacher-librarian, or an administrator, must put aside their own job for the day and fill the vacancy, he said.

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