News Local

Interns eyed as Vancouver school psychologists

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver



The Vancouver School Board is examining whether to take on interns training at the University of B.C. in order to bolster its ranks of school psychologists.

The idea, to be presented on Wednesday to school trustees, looks to take advantage of a Masters degree program at UBC that places psychology students in Kindergarten to Grade 12 settings for three years — including a single paid year.

The district says school psychologists — who are paid approximately $85,000 per year — are difficult positions to fill, and the hope for the proposal is that once interns complete their training they’ll want to remain with the district.

“If the district were to host two interns each year, and these interns were supervised by our own staff, this would mean an additional cost to the district of an estimated $170,000 per year,” the district said.

The district anticipates that, at least for the first two years during the students’ unpaid practicum placements, regular school staff psychologists would supervise the students for at least one day per week.

Students during their paid year will still be supervised, though to a lesser degree, and students will likely receive less than a regularly employed psychologist. This amount is estimated at $68,000 per year.

“Currently, the Vancouver School District employs 18 school psychologists ... it is a position that is considered difficult to fill in every school district across the province,” the district said.

One issue that might arise is how agreements with employee unions require school psychologists to be certified teachers.

The district expects to seek an exemption for this requirement, as the union has given permission for such exemptions in the past.