The hallways in Valley schools were bustling on August 30 after students made their way back to class for the start of the 2023-2024 school year. And while much has been made in the media recently about teacher and school staff shortages, both the New Frontiers School Board (NFSB) and the Centre de services scolaire de la Vallée-des-Tisserands (CSSVT) have managed to start the year on very solid footing.
As of August 25, the NFSB was still looking to fill three teaching positions; but director general Michael Helm was confident the human resources department would be able to fill most of these before students returned.
“Staffing-wise, we are in good shape,” he says, while acknowledging that, like many other service centres and boards across the province, the NFSB does hire teachers without a “Brevet” or teaching diploma. The NFSB does, however, prioritize those who have university degrees and/or provisional teaching licences in its hiring practices.
Helm says he is confident that students, staff, and administrators “are in for a good start to the school year.” He notes the recent ruling on Bill 40 in favour of English school boards has certainly helped to set the stage for a positive return without this “hanging over our heads.”
Another piece of good news came in the form of a resolution to the standoff between Autobus Venise Ltée and around 50 school bus drivers who had been on strike since April 3. The labour dispute disrupted bus transportation in the Salaberry-de-Valleyfield area last spring and impacted students attending Gault Institute as well as those attending French schools within the city.
An end to the strike was announced on August 29 – just in time to ensure buses would be rolling for the first day of classes – with drivers having signed a three-year contract that includes salary increases and more job stability.
Busing and school transportation will continue to be an important issue for the NFSB and the CSSVT; both are managing increasing numbers as school registrations continue to rise. A press release issued by the CSSVT notes that for a sixth consecutive year, the numbers in its youth sector have continued to grow, with at least 527 new registrations since September 30, 2022.
The service centre has also been working hard to recruit new teachers and staff and has announced that all the regular services offered to the community were in place for the start of the school year. “Our staff have put in place dynamic and effective recruitment measures to increase the organization’s attractiveness and enable us to become an employer of choice,” says Myriam Hébert, the director of Human Resources Services at the CSSVT.
According to numbers reported on August 22 in the Journal Saint-François by the Syndicat du Champlain, which represents teachers and staff at the CSS Marie-Victorin, the CSS des Patriotes, and the CSSVT, there were over 40 positions or contracts remaining at the CSSVT. Hébert reports that almost all vacancies have now been filled. “This accomplishment reflects a collective effort, and we are very proud of the results.”