Significant progress made in hiring teachers

Schools & Students

September 27, 2017

Vancouver School Board's Employee Services department has made significant progress toward meeting an unprecedented need for new teachers.

The district needed to hire about 600 new teachers this year because of retirements, resignations and the new memorandum of agreement between the province and the BC Teachers’ Federation regarding class size and composition. By Tuesday, September 26, the postings for new teachers in VSB were down to 42, which was equal to 32.5 full-time equivalent teachers. VSB already employs more than 3,000 full-time equivalent teachers.

The 42 postings listed this week are primarily a mixture of specialist and resource teaching positions that have been challenging to fill, plus some classroom positions, many of which have just become vacant because of leaves or resignations.

“We are continuing to hire full-time and part-time teachers, as well as teachers on call,” says superintendent John Lewis. “The recruitment process never really stops during the course of a school year, but this year has been far more intensive as we have so many more positions to fill.”

The memorandum of agreement signed in March has prompted a province-wide teacher hiring frenzy this summer, including 342 full-time equivalent teachers in VSB. In addition, the district has been working to replace 140 full-time equivalent teachers, vice-principals and principals who retired during the last school year.

With districts across B.C. hiring thousands of teachers, there was also an increase in teachers moving from one B.C. district to another. Since the hiring spree began in the spring, VSB has recruited 50 teachers from other districts, but had 125 resign to teach elsewhere.

“The high cost of living in Vancouver and housing affordability is another factor contributing to our recruitment challenge,” says Lewis. “With the opening of positions in other Lower Mainland school districts, it is extremely attractive for teachers to take a position close to home, reducing their travel time, saving on transportation costs, and having more time with their families.”

VSB will be engaging with the Ministry of Education to see whether any help may be available through provincial programs to support the cost-of-living challenges facing Vancouver, says Lewis. Vancouver is also exploring whether the district can offer incentives, in line with compensation guidelines, such as moving expenses or housing provision to help address the affordability challenge, he says.

“We continue to attend recruitment fairs out of province to attempt to bring additional teachers to Vancouver,” Lewis adds. “In addition to the opportunity to come and live in one of the best cities in the world, with an exceptional quality of life, we are also increasing the number of full-time contracts we are able to offer recent graduates, instead of having them start in part-time or teacher on call positions.”