Hopeful educational assistants (EAs) willing to learn on the job have a new pathway to certification, thanks to a coordinated initiative between the school district and the CUPE local.
In a cost-sharing plan detailed at the latest Gulf Islands Board of Education meeting last Wednesday, the expense of EA training and certification will be evenly split between the applicant, the Gulf Islands School District and CUPE Local 788 — up to $2,000 reimbursement from the district and from the CUPE local, according to associate superintendent D’Arcy Deacon.
“One of the items that continues to be a challenge is recruitment and retention for support staff, in particular educational assistants,” said Deacon. “I think we have been very successful in our recruitment strategies on a local basis to find individuals who are a great fit for the role — albeit not always qualified, but open and willing to learn and grow.”
The program is open to all members of CUPE Local 788 — an employee of the school district — so the pathway for anyone interested who is not currently a member would be to apply for casual educational assistant work, and go through that application and interview process, said Deacon.
“We have folks who are in this position, who range from ‘I’ve never done it, I’m not sure I want to’ to ‘I just need a couple more courses’,” said Deacon.
Uncertified individuals are typically brought into the district categorized as Paraprofessional-3, Deacon added, at which level they aren’t eligible to hold a continuing position; full certification brings them to the Paraprofessional-4 level.
“That comes with the stability of knowing that employment exists year over year,” said Deacon.
Interested employees should contact Deacon at email@example.com or CUPE president Angela Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.