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Qualified substitute teachers in short supply

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The shortage of qualified substitute teachers tops the regular monthly meeting of the Northwest Catholic District School Board on Tuesday night.

“We are concerned that we don’t have sufficient qualified teachers in supply to cover the days of supply teachers we need,” education director John Madigan said Tuesday morning.

Trustees will discuss the use of unqualified teachers—those who have not received their faculty of education qualifications in Ontario—in supply positions at the meeting, which gets underway at 7 p.m. in the board’s office next to St. Francis School.

A report on supply teachers highlights that each school in the board has used between five and 40 days worth of unqualified teachers so far this year, except St. Joseph’s School, which has an unqualified teacher fluent in French replacing a teacher on long-term leave.

Madigan said an unqualified teacher was someone without an education degree but often with qualifications as an educational assistant or a university student working to complete their Bachelor of Education.

He added the report is compiled on a regular basis, and that the board was interested in ensuring qualified supply teachers were being used most effectively.

“The principals are making sure they are called and that we don’t have a qualified person sitting at home in the community,” Madigan remarked.

But he also said the board can’t use supply teachers if there are none to hire.

“Having qualified teachers across the north has been a challenge, especially with the baby-boomers retiring,” Madigan noted.

“There are close to 8,000-9,000 teachers retiring in Ontario each year. The challenge is to graduate that many teachers,” he stressed.

Madigan said the board has done extensive advertising and attended numerous job fairs in an effort to attract more teachers to the area, but added competition for graduating students is steep.

“We’re not only competing against other boards in Ontario, we’re competing against other boards from across North America,” he said.

At the last job fair, Madigan said representatives from Britain, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as from many U.S. states, especially New York, all were vying for the few graduates present.

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