Vancouver secondary school classes once again have worst class size/composition overages in province



    VANCOUVER, Oct. 21 /CNW/ - For the third year in a row Vancouver
secondary schools have the worst class size /composition overages in the
province. "Once again the Vancouver Board of Education has demonstrated a
serious lack of concern about providing an adequate learning environment for
children" said Anne Guthrie Warman, President of Vancouver Secondary Teachers
Association. Since the School Act was amended in 2006, classroom conditions
have steadily deteriorated. The trend in Vancouver unfortunately is worsening.
In the 2007-08 school year, 914 classes had 4 or more students with special
needs designations, this year to date there are 1088, an increase of 19% from
last year. Class size overages have also shown a significant increase this
year. In 2007-08 there were 512 classes with 31 or more students. This year
there are 586, an increase of 14.4%.
    On October 6, the Superintendent of Schools Chris Kelly reported "that
the proposed organization of classes is in compliance with the class size
provisions and is, in his opinion, appropriate for student learning." After
some debate the trustees voted 4-3 to accept and approve the report for
submission to the Ministry of Education. Trustees Sharon Gregson, Al Blakey
and Allan Wong all voted against this motion and raised the issue that
concerns regarding inadequacy of teaching resources were not addressed in the
report and that feedback from stakeholder groups about class size and
composition issues should be considered first. This advice was ignored by the
trustees who voted to accept the report. They were Clarence Hansen, Eleanor
Gregory, Shirley Wong and Carol Gibson.
    "This is especially disappointing to teachers," said Anne Guthrie Warman
"as teachers across the district do not agree that all is well." Three
examples which illustrate this egregious state of affairs are all academic
examinable classes. Comparative Civilization 12 with 32 students, 7 of whom
have special needs designation, Geography 12 with 31 students and 8 special
needs students and Math 10 which has 31 students, 7 of whom have a special
needs designation. Coquitlam School district which has a comparable secondary
student population, effectively caps all classes at 30 and has no oversized
classes.
    The VBE had a surplus of 2.1 million dollars at the beginning of this
year. They allocated 12.5 teachers in Secondary to try to deal with some of
these overages. This staffing has been coming in during October creating
disruption and re-organization issues which create further concerns and
anxieties for students who sometimes have had up to 4 changes of class/teacher
already. This staffing could have been allocated at the beginning of September
as overages in both size and composition were entirely predictable. The
Vancouver Board of Education really needs to do better. It is frankly not
acceptable that the current NPA majority effectively ignores the standard set
out in the School Act year after year.





For further information:

For further information: Anne Guthrie Warman at anne@vstaweb.ca, (604)
873-5570 or (604) 786-2651

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VANCOUVER SECONDARY TEACHERS' ASSOCIATION

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