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Finding substitute teachers for rural areas challenging, Anglophone East says

By Tara Clow May 27, 2024 | 11:56 AM

Filling teacher’s roles in rural areas is getting tougher and tougher.

Recruitment and retention were discussed at a recent Anglophone East District Education Council meeting.

“The vast majority of our substitute teachers are within urban areas or adjacent to urban access. As the price of gas goes up, the opportunity goes down. A decade ago, there was a scarcity of jobs so people would drive anywhere to get just to get their foot in the door. There’s no longer a scarcity of work. So fewer and fewer people are getting into the car,” Superintendent Randolph MacLEAN stated.

District Education Council member Alex Morton questioned what can be done differently to aid schools that are dramatically affected.

“They’re not seeing anything improve. They’re seeing things get worse. In April, Petty (Petiticodiac) had 95 vacancies.  There was a day last week when Salisbury had 14 out. They’re not seeing supply teachers. People don’t want to go out that far. They’re seeing the quality of rural schools being impacted. I think right now what the PSSCs and the schools are feeling is almost like second-class citizens.”

MacLEAN says it’s a work in progress, “I don’t possess a magic wand, and it’s not unique.  R, rural Canada is struggling with the same. I don’t have an answer except we continue to work.”

He adds that this is an issue everywhere, not just in New Brunswick. He recently attended meetings in Olds, Alberta, where the Superintendent told him they don’t have substitute teachers.

“I had the same conversation with a superintendent for PEI. She said I don’t have substitute teachers. I have no problem with Charlottetown. I have no problem with Summerside, but in Kensington, I may not have a substitute teacher,” MacLEAN said.