As another school year gets underway, school districts around the province are struggling to fill teacher vacancies, and School District No. 74 (Gold Trail) is no exception, says Board of Trustees co-chair Vicky Trill.
“We have teachers for all classes at the schools in Clinton, Cache Creek, and Ashcroft, but district-wide there is a shortage of eight full-time teachers,” she says. “That’s quite significant. Four of the positions are for classroom teachers, the others are for non-enrolling teachers.”
The vacancies are at Lytton Elementary and Kumsheen Secondary in Lytton, Lillooet Secondary, George M. Murray Elementary in Lillooet, and Sk’il’ Mountain Community School in Shalalth.
Trill notes that the teacher shortages cause a strain on the whole system. “We use people from the Teachers Teaching on Call list, and it also affects our Distributed Learning program. People who are currently in DL courses can complete their courses, but we can’t take on any new students.
“We need eight more teachers in order to offer everything we want to. Eight teachers is huge for us, and staffing classrooms is a priority.” She adds that there are no support staff shortages in the district, and that they are still actively trying to hire teachers to fill the vacant positions.
Trill mentions the success of Lillooet Secondary teacher Kim Halayko, who is one of 27 finalists in the new Premier’s Awards for Excellence in Education (see “Local News Briefs” on page 5 for more information).
“This is huge news! She’s one of three finalists in her category [“Diversity and Inclusion”], and was nominated by Sherry Kane, the education coordinator for the Ts’kw’aylaxw First Nation. It’s the perfect category for Kim to be nominated in, by a group of people who are recipients of her great work.”
Meetings of the Board of Trustees take place on the first Tuesday of each month at the District Office in Ashcroft. In the past the open meetings were held at various locations around the district throughout the school year, but Trill says that the meetings were usually not well-attended by community members.
“The solution was community engagement meetings, where we got one-to-one feedback and finally got engagement. We’re really pleased with that. The [board] meetings weren’t places where people were engaging. Now we go to every community and Nation.”
With a trustee election coming up in October, Trill notes that a new board could decide to do things differently, or could keep things the same. However, she says that the board wants to make sure that the opportunity for engagement is there, which is why the monthly open meetings can be attended via a toll-free phone call by anyone in the district regardless of their location.
Participants can address a specific agenda item during the Public Forum, and/or take part in the Question Period after the meeting is adjourned. To address a specific item, contact Lois Miller at (250) 453-9151 (ext. 201) or at email@example.com prior to 12:30 p.m. on the meeting date. Open meeting agendas can be viewed at http://bit.ly/2NER3ty.
Trill, who is finishing her first term as the trustee for the Village of Ashcroft, says she plans on running again in this year’s election. “There are lots of reasons why. I enjoy the work, which I think is good work. It’s so important to ensure that we have a lot of focus on children. They’re our future, and some of our most vulnerable people.
“It’s important that people in the community with integrity stand up for them.”
She adds that she’s grateful to the Village of Ashcroft for the safety improvements on Ranch Road leading to Desert Sands Community School.
“It’s really helped that the Village put in crosswalks, signs, and lines, to improve the safety for students along the road.”