Rocky View teachers concerned with class size and support
By: Allison Chorney
| Posted: Thursday, Apr 17, 2014 11:48 am
According to Rocky View Teachers Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) Local 35 the diverse needs of all students are not being supported adequately in “unmanageable classroom sizes.”
“Teachers are concerned that the proper supports are not being put in place because class sizes are so high and budgets are tight,” said Local 35 President Michelle Glavine in a press release on April 10.
According to a 2013 to 2014 Alberta Education report on class size averages, Rocky View Schools (RVS) ranks above the provincial average for all grades. For kindergarten to Grade 3 the provincial class size average is 19.9, and for RVS it is 20.7. The average for grades 4 to 6 is 22.4, where RVS’s average is 24.9. For grades 7 to 9, and grades 10 to 12 the provincial average is 23.2, but RVS comes in at 25.4 for grades 7 to 9 and 25.2 for 10 to 12.
However, RVS is close to or below the Alberta’s Commission on Learning (ACOL) guidelines for Grade 7 to 12. The guidelines for grades 7 to 9 suggest a class size average of 25 and the suggested average for grades 10 to 12 is 27. The ACOL is a 2003 report completed by the government, which provided recommendation for the education system in the province.
“Our class sizes are comparable with other urban and suburban boards in Alberta,” said RVS Superintendent of Schools Don Hoium.
He added RVS works diligently to ensure class sizes are kept low and support services are in place for teachers and students.
However, he said it is a challenge as the Alberta Budget is only offering the board a 1.4 per cent grant increase from 2013 to 2014 for the 2014 to 2015 school year.
Glavine said not only are class sizes becoming too large, but teachers do not have enough supports for students. A 2013 survey commissioned by Local 35 - The Future is Growing Together - indicated only 25 per cent of teachers were satisfied with supports for students with specials needs, 41 per cent were satisfied with supports for students of visible minorities and only 32 per cent felt satisfied with support for English Language Learners.
“What is most concerning is that teachers in Rocky View are feeling that students identified as English Language Learners, students with special needs and students representing visible minorities are not being supported adequately,” Galvine said.
Hoium said in the upcoming budget for the 2014 to 2015 school year, the board will be focusing on these support areas but again the challenge comes from a lack of government funding. The budget will not be available to the public until some time in June.
“Rocky View Teachers work tirelessly to support students in their classroom on a daily basis,” Galvine said.
“We believe that every available resource must be put towards the classroom to provide excellent learning environments for our teachers.”