Rural teachers make exodus  to urban areas

Rural teachers make exodus to urban areas

$2 million fund offered to keep rural teachers in some school districts

The north’s loss is the Sooke School District’ gain.

A $2-million fund for school districts to hire and hold onto teachers at rural B.C. schools won’t be enough to stop an exodusto urban schools as thousands of new positions are opened across the province, the NDP says.

But it’s good news to teachers in urban school districts, says Jim Cambridge, superintendent of the Sooke School District.“Southern Vancouver Island is a very popular place to live, so there are people who live up north who are interested in movinghere. We’re a receiver rather than a loser.”

Recently, the province was forced by the courts to return class-size formulas to 2002 levels.

Announcing the new fund last week, Education Minister Mike Bernier acknowledged that attracting and keeping teachers atrural schools is difficult at the best of times.

The challenge is increased as the province moves to add new positions to meet the terms of a Supreme Court of Canadaruling that requires a return to class size formulas removed in 2002.

The province has already committed $100 million to add teachers across 60 school districts, and the B.C. Teachers’Federation has voted overwhelmingly to accept a new proposal to meet the terms of the court ruling.

“We’ve got chaos about to emerge, with teachers migrating from rural areas to cities,” NDP education critic Rob Fleming saidafter the announcement.

About six weeks ago the Sooke School District hired more 20 teachers and expects to hire up to 15 more this spring.

“It means come September, the Sooke School District will have 35 more teachers than it did last September, for the samenumber of kids,” Cambridge said, adding the Sooke district wasn’t eligible for the rural funding.