It may be some time before negotiations result in more permanent teachers being hired in School District 69 (Qualicum). But the district has been in the process of shoring up its pool of on-call instructors after a spate of illnesses spotlighted a shortage of local Temporary Teachers on Call (TTOC).
“There’s a lack of TTOCs to provide appropriate coverage for teachers out ill, and for personal professional development opportunities, as outlined in our collective agreement,” Mount Arrowsmith Teachers’ Association president Norberta Heinrichs told the board of education at its regular meeting Nov. 22. “I want to acknowledge that senior (district) administration and HR have been working diligently to hire more TTOCs, but we have a current situation where teachers have been adversely affected by this lack of pool (teachers) to dispatch out.”
A recent professional development session scheduled at Ballenas Secondary School had to be postponed because of a shortfall of available temporary teachers, assistant superintendent Gillian Wilson noted. She added she had scheduled interviews later that week with the hope of boosting the district’s pool of TTOCs, which has been kept relatively small by design.
“I know some neighbouring districts have huge lists, where teachers may or may not get called out once in a blue moon,” said Wilson. “One of the philosophies and the premise our district has chosen is we want to be able to keep a small, manageable (pool), but certainly have enough TOCs on our list.
“We want our TOCs to feel a part of our system, that they are getting called to work on a regular basis so they feel that they’re employed. We also choose to have a practice where we want to have the best for our kids. So not everybody who applies or everybody who interviews is on our list.”
Wilsons said the recent shortfall of temporary teachers came in the wake of an unusually high volume of illness absences, including some longer-term illnesses that stressed the temporary pool.
“I know the work it takes to plan a pro-D session and to plan for your teachers on call,” Wilson told Heinrichs. “So to cancel (the Ballenas session) that morning is not an easy decision. But with the number of illnesses that called in that morning, we just could not replace everyone.”
Wilson said she forwarded a note of apology to the school principal and rescheduled the professional development day.