The recruiting practices of School District 57 for the past decade could best be described in terms of a sniper’s rifle precise, pin-point accurate, recruiting on job at a time. The recruitment practices for the next five years will be more like the blast from a shotgun.
The school district has embarked on a blanket recruitment throughout the Lower Mainland and into Alberta, seeking to increase the pool of interviewed and qualified teachers available to be drawn on to work in the district.
“In the last seven or eight years the teaching profession has held its own and hasn’t needed a lot of hiring,” says district superintendent Phil Redmond. But the nationwide trends point to a coming shortage of teachers as more and more hit retirement age. “We’ve had a few retirements in the past couple of years, but the decline in enrolment has kept pace with that. There will be a great number of teachers retiring in the next five years,” says Mr. Redmond.
A recent motion by school trustees firmed the retirement age for teachers at 65. That had been the cut off previously, but with an option to extend it under certain circumstances. Mr. Redmond says that the case of teachers wishing to stay past 65 was very rare, as most are far past the 90-year total of age and job experience needed for full pension benefits.
The district’s plan isn’t to immediately begin hiring, says Mr. Redmond, but instead to begin bloating the database of interviewed applicants. That way a principal in need of a teacher with specific qualifications can access the database and obtain a list of qualified instructors. “We’re just being ready with as many interviewed applicants as we can,” explains Mr. Redmond.
The process has already begun, with SD57 personnel administrator Rusty Rustemeyer just having returned from a job fair at the University of Alberta. The district also plans to recruit twice at UBC and the University of Victoria in upcoming months.
The district also plans to continue on recruiting Simon Fraser University graduates who do their practicums at Harwin Elementary and also from the University of Northern B.C.’s new education program, which could be graduating teachers in as soon as two years.
The need for general recruiting isn’t new. In the 70s and 80s trips to the Lower Mainland were common, says Mr. Redmond, but the practice fell out of use as it became uneccessary to go beyond the local area to fill most positions not requiring specialized background.
“We’re returning to a pattern that we stopped using quite a few years ago.”