Sandy Bay, other north Sask. schools facing staff shortages

Sandy Bay’s lone school has started the school year with fewer teachers than expected.

As of Sept. 7, the Northern Lights School Division (NLSD) had as many as 13 full-time teacher positions unfilled, including two posts in Sandy Bay. The NLSD covers almost all provincial schools in northern Saskatchewan, including the Hector Thiboutot Community School in Sandy Bay. The Sandy Bay school employs around 40 teachers at full staff capacity and serves all students from Kindergarten to Grade 12.

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As of Sept. 10, two job postings are still open for the school on the NLSD website and on employment website LinkedIn – a middle years teacher and a land based catalyst teacher are still needed. Postings for jobs in Air Ronge, La Loche, La Ronge and Stony Rapids are still featured on the NLSD website.

In an interview with CTV, NLSD director Jason Young said the shortage was abnormal.

“From my observations, doing this over 10 years, in terms of hiring, it’s unusual,” he said.

Schools in other communities, including La Loche, La Ronge, Pinehouse Lake and Stony Rapids, also reported shortages.

According to the Saskatoon StarPhoenix, the NLSD expected to have 331 full-time teachers and hoped to fill 97 positions this year.

In addition to the full-time vacancies, the NLSD is looking for substitute teachers in all communities served by the division.

Provincial education officials have pointed toward last year’s shakeup of the Northern Teacher Education Program (NORTEP) as a potential reason for the shortage. The program, designed to train and educate northern Saskatchewan teachers, was scaled back dramatically last year along with the Northern Professional Access College (NORPAC).

Northlands College was designated to take on responsibility for training teachers in the north after the previous system was changed.

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