Ont. schools struggling to meet class-size caps
A report being released on Wednesday says Ontario schools are having difficulty meeting government-imposed caps on primary class sizes, just six months away from the deadline.
In the Greater Toronto Area, 53 per cent of schools are able to keep their junior kindergarten to Grade 3 class sizes capped at 20 students, The Globe and Mail quoted a People for Education report as saying.
The report also said that 54 per cent of Eastern Ontario schools were able to meet the class size cap requirement. Schools in Northern Ontario are doing better due to overall enrollment declines. But even there, schools are struggling as the deadline approaches.
Capping primary and elementary class sizes was a Liberal election promise four years ago. The deadline was set for this September.
Since government implemented the police, school boards have been implementing caps with some success.
The People for Education report, which examines the effects of the government policy, says "recent changes to government policy and targeted funding have had a considerable impact on class sizes in elementary schools."
But reaching the 20 student cap for primary grades is proving difficult, especially in parts of the province experiencing high growth rates.
"It may be time to make the provincial policy more flexible and allow boards to provide the smallest classes in the areas where they will have the largest impact," the report says.
It adds that the government could give school boards "some flexibility" to avoid an increase in "multi-grade or split classes."
"Even though it's a laudable goal, having a hard cap really poses difficulties all across the province," spokesperson Annie Kidder told The Globe.
"I can't imagine how we're going to get there by the fall."
The province's education minister told the newspaper she is aware of school board concerns. But with government funding the bill for class-size reductions, Kathleen Wynne added that school boards will have to find ways to meet the goal.
"I'm not going to say exactly what I'll be doing at this point, but I will be responding to their concerns."
The Toronto District School Board has been leading the charge among boards looking for flexibility in the government policy.
Last week, the TDSB rejected a plan to cap the rest of its primary classes by moving 100 inner-city school teachers to suburban schools. Instead, the board demanded more money from Queen's Park.
The Ontario Public School Boards' Association is supporting the requests for flexibility. Association president Rick Johnson said in some cases boards may be force to move students to other schools in an effort to meet the cap.
"This was an election promise. I think the last thing they want to do is break another election promise," Johnson told The Globe.
"But by the same token, common sense has to come into play. For some boards, it's difficult."