An anonymous donor is offering new teachers $10,000 each to move to the Central Interior and work in the local school district — with the offer rising to $15,000 if they choose to work in Lytton, the village destroyed by fire two years ago.
SD74 includes rural and smaller communities west of Kamloops, including Ashcroft, Lillooet, Cache Creek, and Lytton.
The award aims to place teachers in schools in Ashcroft, Lillooet and Lytton, each serving under 300 students.
SD74’s push for new teachers comes amid a greater staff shortage in BC’s schools, leading some districts to resort to hiring non-qualified teachers working on call due to a lack of qualified teachers.
Linsie Lachapelle, the general manager of Community Futures Sun Country, said there were 25 positions vacant in the three schools.
“We thought, well, let’s think outside the box to draw teachers to the area,” she told Shelley Joyce, host of CBC’s Dawn Kamloops.
“Because I know once they live here, they’ll see how great it is and hopefully want to stay and put their roots in it.”
The award is given in installments, with 50 percent of the award awarded at the end of the school year.
For teachers who want to teach in Ashcroft or Lytton, the award comes with a county vehicle and gas cards if they want to commute from a nearby community, the school district said. The award also includes a $7,500 relocation allowance.
“(Schools) are the heart of the community,” Lachapelle said. “It’s the way we keep our young families who want children here.
“We wouldn’t want to lose the school, then we’d have to take our kids out.”
Lytton School is one of the few to survive the fire
Lachapelle said the offer was sweeter in Lytton as they had been particularly hard hit when it comes to education shortages after the devastating fire of 2021.
“The more I spend time in Lytton – it’s such a great community. The people are great and I think everyone is lucky to move there,” she said. “They hope for reconstruction.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for someone starting out or winding down and looking for a retirement area.”
The Kumsheen ShchEma-meet School was one of the few buildings to survive the devastating fire of 2021 that saw most of the community burn down. It currently houses 122 students, many of whom are indigenous.
Denise O’Connor, the mayor of the community, was a teacher and principal of the school before her current job.
She said staffing challenges at the school were acute even before the fire, and as principal she had to step in more than once to teach for “weeks”.
“As a community, we are grateful to the anonymous donor for offering the incentive to come and work in our school district,” she said. “It is a beautifully renovated school and safe and welcoming for the students.
“Everyone hopes these incentives work and applications come in. Our schools and students deserve to be fully staffed.”