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Federation of School Councils worried about delays in teacher hiring

Don Coombs wears a multitude of different hats on a daily basis as mayor of Harbour Grace, chief development officer for the Trinity Conception Placentia Health Foundation, and now president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of School Councils.
Don Coombs

The NL Federation of School Councils (NLFSC) says the delay in the hiring of teachers has some school councils, parents and teachers worried about the impact it will have on students.

“Over the past week some of our membership have expressed concern that many teaching positions in their child's school have not been finalized. They are worried it will cause unnecessary disruptions to students,” federation president Don Coombs said in a news release.

“Substitute teachers are in place until the hiring is completed, however many parents are concerned that switching teachers will be a difficult adjustment for students, particularly those in the primary grades where consistency is important. Some also worry there are not enough substitute teachers to fill the positions – or to cover sick days throughout the school year.”

The federation said the English School District is doing its best to work through the implications of the new Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers Association  collective agreement clause concerning hiring and most teachers should be in place within a couple of weeks.
 “We firmly believe government, the NLTA, and the English School District want the best for our students and the education system. We encourage them to find a collaborative solution, so we do not see a repeat of this next year. We will be meeting with (Education) Minister (Brian) Warr in the next few weeks and this topic will be included on the agenda for discussion,” Coombs said.

According to the English School DIstrict, there are 89 positions still to be finalized. The positions are currently filled by qualified teachers, on a temporary basis, until competitions are completed next week. Many of those temporarily assigned to the positions could be the successful candidate for the position.

The district said staffing the education system is a monumental task every year — since May 24, the district posted roughly 1,700 job competitions for which it processed close to 100,000 applications. 
The district also noted implementation of the new seniority clause in the NLTA collective agreement has had some unintended impacts this year due to the substantial changes, but both the district and the applicants are working through a new process. The district is open to discussing lessons learned this year with the NLTA to see if there any procedural adjustments can be made for next year. 
The district also noted implementation of the new seniority clause in the NLTA collective agreement has had some unintended impacts this year due to the substantial changes, but both the district and the applicants are working through a new process. The district is open to discussing lessons learned this year with the NLTA to see if there any procedural adjustments can be made for next year. 
The federation said it’s also concerned about other issues, and is monitoring the implementation of the education action plan.

“Increased student assistant time, adequate resources for teaching learning assistants, class size, inclusion, mental health and addictions, and an increase to the guidance councillor allocation, are among our advocacy goals for this year,” Coombs said.

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