Record number of teachers retire

Teachers retire and a number of layoff notices have been recalled

A RECORD number of teachers retired this year, signifying the beginning of a trend that will see more boomer teachers leaving their posts over the next few years.

Cathy Lambright, head of the Terrace and District Teachers’ Union, said that this year there were already close to 20 retirees. Normally, there are between three and five, and more teachers could decide to retire over the summer.

“It’s a factor of how old we’re getting,” she said. “In the next few years we will continue to see an increase in this number.”

“That’s quite possible,” said Art Erasmus, chair of the Coast Mountains school board, when presented with the record numbers. “If they started at the same time, they’ll be retiring at the same time.”

Lambright said the high number of retirees will be the new normal for the next few years.

“… for the next two to three years, four years max, but then it will drop suddenly,” she said.

The number of retirees is not part of the district’s tally of lay-off notices, but it could affect which people who received lay-off notices will be shuffled to new positions in the district.

This year, 62 teachers district-wide received notices, said school board trustee Balwinder Rai.

That figure only applies to teachers under continuing contracts and does not apply to temporary teachers or substitutes.

By mid-month, 35 of those 62 notices were rescinded or recalled, leaving 27 positions to fill.

But job numbers are “an ever changing landscape,” said Rai, noting that jobs are recalled throughout the summer and continually posted throughout the school year.

“At this point, the district still has jobs that haven’t been offered or posted,”  said Lambright.

“Those jobs will be posted throughout the summer.”

Vacancies can still be created by people choosing to leave, to retire, or who go on leave for other reasons.

This means the full composite of teacher lay-offs and retirees won’t be known until the end of September.

Lambright replaced Karen Andrews as head of the Terrace and District Teachers’ Union last month. She’s an experienced member of the union executive and has just finished a stint as its treasurer.

Andrews, who served two one-year terms, is headed back to the classroom.

The new vice president is Helen McAskill who replaces Debra Thame.

The change in executive comes at a time when the school is in the midst of closing Thornhill Junior Secondary, converting Skeena Junior Secondary to a middle school by transferring Grade 7 students there and, in turn, transferring Skeena’s Grade 10 students to Caledonia Senior Secondary.

“The closure of a school, the reconfiguration of all of the schools in Terrace/Thornhill except for two (Parkside and Thornhill Primary) and the move to the middle school model certainly adds to the challenge of staffing,” said Andrews.