The provincial teachers’ union is claiming class-size numbers in B.C. are still too high, despite a recent government report claiming they’re at acceptable levels.
“This release offers nothing more than numbers taken entirely out of context,” said B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Susan Lambert.
“It’s highly manipulative of statistics that have a real impact in terms of children’s learning conditions across B.C.”
The Ministry of Education report shows the province’s 549,106 students in approximately 64,000 classrooms – roughly 2,500 fewer classrooms than last year.
In the Kamloops-Thompson School District, the numbers are consistent with provincial averages.
SD73’s average kindergarten class size is 18.6 students, compared with 18.3 provincially, while grades 1 to 3 have an average of 20.5 students per class in the district, compared to 20.7 across B.C.
Grades 4 to 7 in SD73 have an average class size of 26.2, compared to 25.9 provincially, while the average high school class size in the district is 25.1 – equal to the B.C. average.
The head of the local teachers’ union says the Kamloops-Thompson school district has made strides to lower class sizes, but more can be done.
“Our district has done a good job on class size for the most part,” said Jason Karpuk, president of the Kamloops-Thompson Teachers’ Association.
“But, as has been stated for years, the smaller the class size, the better the learning environment.
“There’s only so much time in a day and the more kids the teachers have in front of them, it means less time for individual students.”
There are 17 high-school classes in SD73 with more than 30 students and each has been deemed OK by education officials.
Of the 17 oversized classes, eight are band, music or choir and six are phys-ed.
The remaining three classes are French, comparative civilizations and social justice.
Valleyview secondary and Brocklehurst middle school have the most oversized classes, with four each, followed by Westsyde secondary’s three.
South Kamloops and NorKam each have two, while Sa-Hali and Logan Lake secondaries have one each.
Karpuk would like to see the funding model change to allow SD73 to reduce class sizes even further.
He said maintenance expenses for schools should be paid for out of a separate pot from money that funds teachers.
“You’ve got only so many kids in a school,” he said.
“Part of the funding that comes from the government should be for building maintenance and upkeep.
“If you don’t do that, it’s going to continue to cash-strap the board.”