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School board hears woes from teachers in understaffed schools

School District 57’s Board of Trustees held their February meeting this afternoon (Tuesday).

Prince George District Teacher’s Association President Daryl Beauregard presented the board with multiple letters from experienced teachers in the district, detailing the extent of the impacts of teacher and educational assistant shortages.

A teacher with 29 years of experience wrote Beauregard, saying

“We are overwhelmed and we have run out of duct tape to fix the problem…

This has been our most difficult year in the last 10.”

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“Teachers need schools to have consistent behaviour plans that are providing a safe and productive learning environment. Student support needs are far more complex than they were even just five years ago.”

Beauregard said this teacher also told him they are often told there is no money for proposed fixes or plans, which they said is frustrating “when there are so many shortages and so many of us are already doing coverage, where is the money?”

Another teacher with 20 years of experience wrote Beauregard with specific examples from classrooms within their school.

“A class in that school – four students have a very significant need for support,” Beauregard read. “One is diagnosed with autism, severe anger, trauma, and a history of violence… another two are on the waitlist for assessment, and another is a ‘category H’ (a student with severe anger and violence issues).”

A second class the teacher wrote about has three students with autism who each need more assistance, a fourth being assessed, and another student with a history of violence who has their own educational assistant full time.

“That means there are four students in that classroom not getting support – and another needs English language support, it is a complicated classroom,” Beauregard said.

He added nearly 1 in 5 teachers in SD57 are not currently certified, as the district has brought on many people to help plug these holes.

Citing a recent provincial labour study, Beauregard said 20,000 new teachers and 7,000 new educational assistants will need to be hired in the province in the next 10 years – on top of the vacancies that currently exist.

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“We have a tsunami coming, and it is already a struggle out there, it is hard on people. It is really hard on our kids,” he said to the board. “I am hoping in you put some pressure on government – it doesn’t matter who is in power. Public education needs champions, that is part of my job and part of your job too.”

Ending his address to the board, Beauregard asked them to “Please use your connections. You have influence. Please use your provincial gatherings, and your roles to advocate for support for public education.”

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