Brandon School Division is in urgent need of substitute teachers.
An increasing student population led to more teachers being hired off the sub list, leaving a dwindling number of available substitutes.
"There are days where we simply don’t have enough people," said Darren Hardy, president of the Brandon Teachers’ Association, at a recent school board meeting. "I’m hoping that we can work together, we can make a difference and we can try and alleviate the stresses that are placed because of a shortage."
While the division normally experiences a substitute shortage every year, it seems the problem is getting worse this year, according to board chair Mark Sefton.
"As the number of classroom teachers increases, the number of substitutes required to work in those situations, also increases," Sefton said.
The majority of the division’s 160 substitutes are retired teachers.
"That’s great because they understand the system, they understand the schools," Sefton said. "That’s a real bonus, but on the other hand after a certain number of years … substitutes decide that … ‘now is the time for me to retire completely.’"
Retired teachers also tend to take vacations during the winter months.
"What you have is teachers who, for 35 years, have never been able to take advantage of seat sales … now they can," Sefton said. "They’re taking a well-deserved, sunny holiday … but that also has quite an impact on the number of substitutes we have available at certain times of the year."
A lack of substitutes can pose a challenge if teachers become ill or need to take a professional development day.
"We do not want a sick person coming to work," Hardy said. "It’s bad modelling for students, it makes other people sick and people make bad decisions when they’re sick."
The division hopes teachers in the community will come on board.
"We know that we’ve got certified teachers in Brandon that aren’t subbing. Why is that? There’s work to be had," Hardy said.
Supt. Donna Michaels said the division will be working to do a better job at substitute teacher recruitment. Sefton suggested making a presentation to Brandon University faculty of education students. If they don’t get a permanent job right off the bat, he said, substituting may be an appealing option.
The division is now accepting applications for all grade levels and subject areas. Visit brandonsd.mb.ca to apply.