While September always ushers in change for students, parents and teachers, this school year the changes go beyond a new class or classroom.
Like many other districts in B.C., North Okanagan-Shuswap School District #83 has been going through a bit of a hiring boom, due to the court decision that forced the previous government to uphold contract language limiting class sizes.
To provide details is Superintendent Peter Jory, who began his new job Aug. 1.
He says the district will see 44 new full-time equivalent positions, many of them classroom teachers. But included in that number will also be staff specialists such as counsellors, learning resource teachers, teacher librarians and English-as-a-second language teachers.
The new positions will be spread throughout the district.
“As we’ve worked on our class sizes and worked to get in compliance with the restored (contract) language, pressure spots have been spread through our 22 schools. The additional staffing is pretty much everywhere.”
The number of full-time equivalent positions in the district will rise from 350 to nearly 400.
Some of the specialized positions have been hard to fill, as many districts are vying for those skills.
Although the TTOCs or ‘teachers teaching on call’ list contains more than 130 names, it is shrinking due to all the hiring from within and outside the district.
Number of teachers depends on number of students, and that final number won’t be known until Sept. 29.
However, Jory says it’s projected to be up about a dozen students over last year. And he adds there’s been a bit of a shift since that estimate was determined.
“It’s very possible our projections are a shade low.”
Jory, who replaces Glenn Borthistle, comes to Salmon Arm from Squamish, where he was director of instruction, technology and innovation with the Sea to Sky School District.
He’s excited about his new job.
“When Mike McKay (the district’s official trustee) reached out to me… I knew right away. It was a role I was very excited about and an area of the province that was really desirable. I knew my wife and I were going to be very happy here.”
Jory was born in Osoyoos, lived in Clearwater through his high-school years and went to college in Kamloops. He says his family spent a week every year in the Shuswap.
He’s optimistic things will go well here.
“By all accounts, Mike McKay is doing a very admirable job. He’s engaged with the community, and his patient and thoughtful approach has been well-received… As a brand new superintendent, it will be of great benefit to me to draw on his expertise and wisdom.”
Asked about his strengths, Jory mentions he’s gone through a strategic planning process in a couple of districts, is well-versed in educational technology and has a good background in terms of educational change conversation.
“I think the other piece they’re looking for here, is a move to a more business-focused and transparent policy system.”
He adds: “I think people will find me to be engaging, very candid and also find me to be decisive. These are strengths for me and I think will be appreciated by the community.”
Jory appreciates how friendly and welcoming everyone has been.
“I’ve really enjoyed my conversations so far and I’m looking forward to being part of the community. We’ve been here a month and we like it already. We got a dog from the SPCA,” he says with a chuckle.
He has two children, one 20 and one 22.