School principals are starting to tap their feet, their paychecks still being the same as before the pandemic, while their work has never been so complex.
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“I am close to retirement. I will do everything in my power to leave as soon as possible,” admits Georges (fictitious name), principal of an elementary school in Montreal who preferred to remain anonymous so as not to suffer reprisals from his school service centre.
With inflation, labor shortages and COVID bonuses that have been given in several areas, many workers have seen their wages increase. In 2021, the Legault government notably granted salary increases ranging from 10% to 15% to teachers.
School principals have obtained a 2% increase, according to an agreement in principle adopted this summer. The new rate came into effect last April.
But five months later, this increase has still not been paid. Their paycheck is therefore still the same as in March 2020, when the last regulation expired, explains Kathleen Legault, president of the Montreal Association of School Principals (AMDÈS).
This comes on top of the fact that the managements had to wait two years before the government agreed to start negotiating with them.
“We’re not used to complaining,” says M.me Legault. But there is a lot of grumbling. It’s like being told that we are not important, ”says Rose (fictitious name), director of an adult education center.
However, school principals have experienced a whole pandemic whirlwind: health instructions that changed at the last minute, vaccination campaigns, conflicts with parents.
Now they face an unprecedented staff shortage as the number of students increases.
“I start at 7:30 in the morning and finish around 7 p.m.,” testifies Nathalie (fictitious name), director of a secondary school.
She has no intention of quitting her job, but she might. Regularly, she receives job offers as an executive in private schools, in companies or in the field of health, she illustrates.
According to the 2020 scale, the salary of an assistant principal started at $73,515, which is less than that of a teacher at the last level.
The maximum that an experienced director could earn was then $ 132,836, if she directed a large school of more than 2,000 students, illustrates Mr.me Legault.
It would therefore be the least we could do to pay the “several thousand dollars” to each person who is entitled to it, now that the 2% increase has been granted to them, say the directors questioned.
“Can we move on to something else?” Nathalie asks impatiently.
At the time of publishing, the Ministry of Education had not responded to our questions.
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