The Province is investing $2 million to enhance the recruitment and retention of teachers and other qualified education sector professionals to rural schools, Education Minister Mike Bernier and Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Education Linda Larson announced today.
This investment will help support local and provincewide solutions for school districts with hard-to-fill positions in rural and remote communities. This challenge has been a recurring topic of discussion through the Province’s ongoing engagement to create a rural education strategy.
In June 2016, Premier Christy Clark tasked Larson to work with the education sector, the public and community stakeholder groups to create a rural education strategy by the summer of 2017. The goal is to find long-term solutions for the unique challenges facing rural schools, while recognizing the economic and social impact of single schools in small communities.
To date, there have been eight open houses throughout the province to engage the public and stakeholders on how government can best serve the educational needs of rural communities. B.C.’s rural education strategy is expected to look at public school funding, facilities and the role education and schools play in rural communities.
Including the interim steps announced in January 2017, the recently concluded agreement with the BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) will result in the hiring of thousands of new teachers around the province. This provincewide hiring drive adds significantly to the recruitment challenge faced by rural school districts for more teachers and education-sector professionals, such as certified educational assistants and human resource professionals.
The $2 million in provincial funding will flow to districts from the BC Public School Employers’ Association’s recruitment and retention program (Make a Future – Careers in BC Education) to be used for:
- free job posting services and access to an online teacher application management system;
- coordination of national and international recruitment efforts;
- local incentives, such as enhanced funding for travel expenses for professional development, relocation expenses and transitional housing assistance.
Mike Bernier, Minister of Education –
“We know our rural school districts can experience recruitment challenges at the best of times. But with record investments in education and a final agreement with the BCTF, the public education system is gearing up to hire thousands of new teachers. That makes the challenge all the more pressing and I’m pleased that we can target additional funding to help rural districts attract the teachers and other professionals they need.”
Linda Larson, Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Education –
“Schools are the heart of our communities. This is especially evident in smaller towns where one elementary school may serve many purposes within the community. For the past few months, I’ve been listening to citizens and local governments across the province express their challenges and accomplishments when it comes to supporting education in their rural communities. While work continues on the rural education strategy, we are taking action now to help rural school districts attract and keep teachers and educators.”
Teresa Rezansoff, president, BC School Trustees Association –
“As a trustee in a small rural school district, SD51 Boundary, I can appreciate the difficulties rural and remote school districts face in both recruiting and retaining qualified teachers. The recent agreement reached with the BCTF will result in a significant number of new teacher postings across the province. This presents both a wonderful opportunity and a significant challenge for northern, remote or rural school districts. This investment will help address those challenges and supports equality of opportunity throughout the province.”
Glen Hansman, president, British Columbia Teachers’ Federation –
“Recruitment and retention of teachers has been a growing concern across B.C. for several years now. For rural and northern communities, the problem of attracting and keeping teachers is especially acute. Targeted funding to ensure school districts are better able to meet the growing demand in our schools is welcome. As the union that represents B.C.'s public school teachers, the BCTF will look forward to further discussion and co-operation on addressing these issues.”
- In British Columbia, approximately 32% of the students in the K-12 education system attend schools located outside of the Greater Victoria, Lower Mainland and Kelowna areas – many in very small communities that use school facilities as a hub for community activities.
- Rural school districts in B.C. receive about 20% more funding per student than urban districts – and special supports like Rural Education Enhancement Funding.
- The BC Public School Employers’ Association created Make a Future – Careers in BC Education to increase recruitment and retention in B.C.’s public education sector. Make a Future is a joint initiative between the BC Public School Employers’ Association, all 60 boards of education, and the Ministry of Education.
The B.C. government is seeking input on the province’s rural education system to help develop a new rural education strategy. Read and comment on the rural education discussion paper until March 15, 2017 at: http://engage.gov.bc.ca/ruraleducation
Make a Future – Careers in BC Education: www.makeafuture.ca