Faced with stiff competition to attract teachers to local classrooms, the West Vancouver school district has applied for $1.3 million in provincial funding to build a freestanding childcare centre on the grounds of West Vancouver Secondary that would give priority to the children of teachers and other school district staff.
If approved, the school district would contribute land for a new childcare centre, while the actual operation of the facility would likely be contracted out, as it is in other school-based childcare centres.
The facility would provide 18 spaces aimed at infant and toddler ages.
While not exclusively for the children of school district employees, the hope is that kids of school district staff as well as District of West Vancouver employees would be given priority in the new childcare, said Sean Nosek, associate superintendent of the school district.
Nosek added there are already over a dozen school-based childcare facilities that provide childcare to students and to the general public within West Vancouver schools.
Renee Willock, president of the West Vancouver Teachers Association, praised the idea as a novel way to attract young teachers to the school district.
“West Vancouver needs to attract and retain teachers,” she said, noting that as older teachers retire “our teaching staff is becoming younger and more female.”
Willock said while about 60 per cent of teachers live on the North Shore, 40 per cent don’t – and that number is increasing.
“Our new hires don’t live on the North Shore” – primarily because of the cost of housing, she said.
In October 2017, the West Vancouver school district surveyed staff about childcare needs.
Those who responded indicated they would be very interested in a childcare program – particularly one flexible enough to work with the school calendar. Over one-third of those people said access to affordable childcare would influence their ability to continue working in the school district within the next five years.
“We do want to make sure that we’re able to do these kinds of things to attract the best and brightest,” said Nosek.
The school district is now waiting to find out if the grant application is successful.
If provincial funding is granted, a new childcare program could be up and running by September 2021, said Nosek.