Challenges and positives in Sask Rivers staffing accountability report

The Sask Rivers Education Centre/ Daily Herald File Photo

The Saskatchewan Rivers School Division is pleased with the quality of their staff, but there are concerns about the quantity.

The division’s board had a look at staffing numbers in the yearly accountability report presented by Superintendent of Schools Corey Trann at their regular meeting on Monday, August 28.

Director of Education Neil Finch said they’re happy with the job staff are doing, but they could use more of them.

“I think the biggest challenge that we’ve seen on that side is just trying to find enough personnel and employees,” Finch said. “We do lots of good things to keep up with that and to make sure that we’ve got people ready to fill positions there as they arise.

“We’re proud of the employees that we currently have and the employees that we recruit,” he added. “We have staff that really care about students, and it shows through on a daily basis when our students are in the buildings.”

Trann has moved into the role formerly held by Finch, who is heading into his first school year as education director.

“I think that having someone that has got senior administration experience to go into that role is going to be very beneficial for us,” Finch said.

During the 2022-2023 school year, there were more than 561 full-time equivalent teachers in the division with 33 principals and 25 vice principals. There were 18 female and 15 male principals and 16 female and nine male vice-principals.

There were over 31 full-time equivalent employees working out of the Education Centre.

The total budget for teachers and administration was $52.6 million. The largest percentage of money spent on salary goes to teachers at 84 percent of the total.

The division saw a modest turnover of 4.3 percent including early resignations and retirements.

The division is down eight full-time equivalent teachers and one principal for the 2023-2024 school year through the budget allocation. This decrease is directly related to enrolment and the principal is a result of the SRPSD Distance Learning Centre (DLC) discontinuing at the end of the last school year.

Most of the staff at the DLC was transferred internally.

“We did lose a couple of teachers at the DLC, but that was no different than other school divisions that lose staff on a yearly basis,” Finch explained. “But, we also gained staff from other school divisions at the same time.”

Saskatchewan Rivers also has a First and Second Year Program where newer teachers meet formally throughout the year. There are also formal classroom visits from the superintendent in charge, this year it has been assigned to new superintendent Jeff Court.

“Having Jeff as an internal candidate actually makes, in the short term anyway, a pretty smooth transition because he knows the system, he knows the division and is aware of the direction that we are heading in, so that has been really nice,” Finch said.

There is also an educational bursary offered to a maximum of $85,000 in the division. This year there were 56 applicants in two intakes and they paid out a total of $56,370.

Teacher recruitment in ongoing and a year-long focus, but the main efforts come during recruitment fairs at the University of Regina and University of Saskatchewan in January and February. The division also attends other fairs if necessary.

The substitute list in the division is around 200 people made up mostly of current teachers but also includes 80 retired teachers. Over the past couple of years, the division has had difficulty to maintain an adequate substitute list. Trann noted in his report that the substitute list is slowly improving but it will take a number of years to fully recover.

In 2022-2023 there were over 460 employees in the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) pool with EA (Educational Associates) making up the largest number with over 218. There are also 59 employees through separate funding arrangements, along with 24 Out-of-Scope personnel.

The total non-teacher employee salaries are $21.5 million. This includes accounting and payroll, computer technicians, bus drivers, caretakers, educational associates, language associates, library staff, maintenance staff, mechanics, mentors, KidsFirst project coordinators, social workers and secretaries.

The total staff in the divisions numbers 1,744 of staff shows that 75 percent and 25 percent male with all staff in all areas including teachers, CUPE and staff. The age categories show that there are 23 percent in the 40 to 49 category, 22 percent in the 50 to 59 category, 21 percent in the 30 to 39 category, 14 percent in the 60 to 69 category, 16 percent in the 17 to 29 category and four percent in 70 to 79 age category.

The division currently has 181 educators in the First Nations-Métis-Indigenous category which is consistent with recent years.

The division is having strong recruitment according to the conclusion as they work with multiple universities. This year the division has 38 interns. They are had success in recruitment for French Immersion positions and in their Cree Language recruitment and other difficult positions and not lose them to other divisions.

The report states that they continue to find the needs of students increasing. It states that they offer many supports but it seems like more could always be utilized to benefit students.

The recommendation of the report was to maintain current direction which ensures that staff remains at the best level to serve students.