Give us old class sizes, Coquitlam teachers request

School District 43 should be rolling back class sizes and putting money aside to deal with the fallout from a Supreme Court decision striking down a pair of laws that removed class size and composition from bargaining, says the Coquitlam Teachers’ Association.

At an SD43 budget meeting Tuesday, CTA president Teresa Grandinetti presented the board of education with class size and composition provisions dating back to the late 1990s, when they were considered teachers’ working conditions and could be negotiated.

“I would ask the board to honour the spirit of the Supreme Court decision and reinstate those provisions that were stripped from the collective agreement. I would ask that the board include these provisions in the 2011/’12 school district budget,” Grandinetti said.

According to the documents Grandinetti provided, negotiated class size provisions were lower than those now enshrined in the School Act for some grades, including first year primary (21 students per class compared to 22), primary (23 compared to 24) and intermediate, or Grades 4 to 7 (28 compared to 30); and there were also some lower class sizes for Grades 8 to 12, such as in home economics and shop classes (24 compared to 30). Regular secondary class sizes were the same, at 30 students, according to the working conditions document, but there were specific formulas for non-enrolling teachers such as counsellors and librarians.

In those days, prior to Bill 33, which made class size and composition part of the School Act, there were also limits to the numbers of identified students with special needs in a classroom. As is currently the case, only three special needs students were allowed per class but when the maximum was reached, the class size had to drop by two.

Under current law, classes can have more than three students with individual education plans (IEPs) if the principal thinks its appropriate for student learning and teachers have been consulted. In School District 43, about 714 classes have more than three students with IEPs but class sizes meet the legislated targets, except for band and choir, and the district puts $2 million in the budget to meet class size and composition provisions.

A school district spokesperson was not available to comment before The Tri-City News’ press time to comment on whether the recent Supreme Court decision would have any effect on class size and composition for next year’s budget.



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