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Planning ahead means no teacher shortage for Kootenay Lake District

Claire Paradis
By Claire Paradis
March 4th, 2018

Thanks to forward planning by Kootenay Lake School Board and staff, the district is not facing a teacher shortage unlike some of the other areas in the province.

News reports from some of the provincial media says a North Okanagan-Shuswap School District is hiring people without teaching certification to do on-call work that matches the description of a typical teaching job.

“We put out our staffing for this year very, very early so we were able to fill all positions but three,” Deanna Holitzki, Director of Instruction for Human Resources Services told The Nelson Daily.

Holitzki said to date, all of the roughly 300 positions, except one Special Education opening in Creston, have been filled.

The School District pushes hard to get the budget out early so they can staff as early as possible in anticipation of shortages, said Holitzki.

“We were pleasantly surprised we were able to meet the needs of our schools.”

Looking ahead, SD8 expects there will be challenges filling the Special Education and French immersion postings in its 23 schools. But they’re planning to be the early bird again and to have positions out in April with plenty of time to find teachers. Teachers who may be leaving also give plenty of notice so the District is able to anticipate, predict, and fill vacancies. 

Kootenay Lake is somewhat blessed by the fact that the West Kootenay is one of the more desirable areas of the province.

Another factor could be having the West Kootenay Rural Teachers Education Program (WKTEP) based in Nelson.

“We work very closely with WKTEP,” said Holitzki. “Program students do practica in our school district.”

At the moment, there are 23 practicum students in SD8, and the District staff help candidates fill out applications for positions in the district at a job fair in the spring.

“It is a great program so we’re pleased to be partners with them.”

The District has close relationships with University of Victoria, University of Lethbridge and Vancouver Island University and SD 8 actively searches for teachers to bring to area schools, Holitzki said. Fortunately, the area’s reputation precedes it.

“We go to Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria to recruit teachers and they already know about the Kootenays. They know what an amazing place it is.”

And are they prepared for the challenges of rural living?

“The biggest challenge is finding affordable housing,” commented Holitzki, an issue that isn’t unique to this part of the world. “And they may not be prepared for driving on winter roads.”

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