Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut August 21, 2012 - 5:00 am

Nunavut still hiring teachers as students return to school

"It has not been difficult to recruit teachers, it’s been difficult to recruit principals”

SAMANTHA DAWSON

It’s harder for the Government of Nunavut to recruit principals than teachers, Trudy Pettigrew, the regional executive director of school operations for the Qikiqtani region, said Aug. 20 as schools across the Baffin region opened their doors for the start of a new school year.

“It has not been difficult to recruit teachers, it’s been difficult to recruit principals,” she said.

Most schools in the Baffin region have already started classes, with the last two schools, both in Sanikiluaq, set to open Sept. 4.

This year continues the practice of staggered start dates, with some Baffin schools opening on Aug. 14 and Aug. 15, and some during the last week of August or the first week of September.

Pettigrew said she expects vacant teaching positions, 19 in all, to be filled by the time all schools in the Baffin region are open.

“Some are just advertised, and some candidates are being interviewed,” Pettigrew said.

As for language specialists who teach Inuktitut, they generally come from the communities from which they are hired.

But housing is not available for other new hires, some of whom will have to share accommodations.

The availability of housing is a big part of recruiting, Pettigrew said. However, in spite of that. the turnover rate is not as high as one would think, she said.

That’s because people hired on term contracts are often hired for permanent positions, or are hired for different jobs.

“It’s a new hire but it’s not a new person,” she said.

From a community perspective, that person would not be unfamiliar or new, unless they’ve moved to a new community, which has happened at least on two occasions this year.

“The majority of people we hire, [who are] new to the communities, are from the South,” Pettigrew said. “The number of people applying for jobs is more a reflection of job availability in the South. Many people look there first.”

The Nunavut Teachers Association won a big wage increase of 4.5 per cent in their last contract, signed in 2011, with the Government of Nunavut. It’s retroactive to July 1, 2009, with more increases each year until 2013.

This means the highest annual wage for a teaching position now stands at $107,576, with the lowest at $68,608, plus other benefits.

Most teaching positions in the Kivalliq region have been filled, said Shelley Pepler, regional executive director of the Kivalliq School Operations. “We’re looking pretty good,” she said.

Students in the Kitikmeot region have also now returned to school or will soon — in Cambridge Bay the first day of school is set for Aug. 24.

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