Trustees wrangle over class size report

Classrooms in the Chilliwack school district may be meeting government requirements, but some trustees and teachers are arguing those requirements are not legal.

Classrooms in the Chilliwack school district may be meeting government requirements, but some trustees and teachers are arguing those requirements are not legal.

At Tuesday night’s board of education meeting, superintendent Michael Audet presented his class size and composition report, which will be sent to the B.C. Education Ministry for approval later this month.

In the report, it states that no kindergarten class in the district exceed 19 students, no grades 1-3 classes exceed 24 students, and no grades 4-7 classes exceed 30 students.

However, in grades 8-12, 124 classes do exceed 30 students.

Class size legislation in B.C. states that grades 1-3 classes cannot exceed 24 students without teacher consent; grades 4-7 classes cannot exceed 30 students without teacher consent; and grades 8-12 classes cannot exceed 30 students without teacher consultation.

“We are well within the expectations,” said Audet.

Legislation also states no more than three students with special needs, requiring individualized education plans (IEP) are permitted in a classroom without teacher consent.

In Chilliwack, there are 28 elementary classes and 234 middle and secondary classes with more than three special needs students requiring IEPs.

Audet said, as a general rule, the district does not have more than five students with IEPs in one class.

However, Chilliwack Teachers’ Association president Katharin Midzain said her numbers didn’t match up with the district’s.

“At the middle-secondary level, my information shows at least 71 classes with more than six IEPs, several with 11 or 12… and an additional 48 that have five,” said Midzain, who also opposed the consultation process.

The report showed 66 teachers had agreed to having 30 or more students in their class; to having more than three students with IEPs; or both.

“That means over 250 teachers disagreed,” said Midzain.

“We used to have language [in the collective agreement] that brought reasonable and real support to all our students,” but now, “it’s just a numbers game the ministry has us playing.”

A game trustee John Henry Harter said is illegal.

Last April, Madam Justice Susan Griffin with the B.C. Supreme Court ruled that the provincial government’s 2002 legislation, which stripped the teachers’ union from bargaining class size limits and composition was a violation of their bargaining rights.

“I would suggest to you that the supreme court actually found that the class size and composition legislation in the school act is illegal,” said Harter.

“I don’t think, in good conscience, we can actually support something that shouldn’t be in the school act. And that is not just my opinion, it is the supreme court’s.”

Trustee Silvia Dyck, however, said the ruling was a matter of interpretation and that she was comfortable supporting the superintendent’s report.

The report was approved with Harter and trustee Louise Piper in opposition.

kbartel@theprogress.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chilliwack Visual Artists Assocation calling for artists to display

Works will be on display at O’Connor Group Art Gallery

City of Chilliwack applies for flood mitigation planning money

Fraser River frontage in Chilliwack would be studied with an eye to flood prevention

Chilliwack poultry producer’s $130,000 fight with the CFIA earns him a red-tape award

Canadian Federation of Independent Business Paperweight Awards ‘honour’ government over-regulation

Worshipping together: three United churches in Chilliwack amalgamate

Chilliwack United, Rosedale United and Mt. Shannon United are now known as Cheam View United Church

VIDEO: Rare ‘ice circle’ spotted on Kamloops river

An ice circle or ice pan, has formed in the chilly waters just east of the Yellowhead Bridge

B.C. man rescued after getting trapped headfirst in well as water level rose

The rescue involved crews from Oak Bay and Saanich

Investigators in wildfire-torn Australia head to site of B.C. airtanker crash

The B.C. government sends condolences to Port Alberni-owned Coulson Aviation

Mud slide prompts evacuation in Burnaby as rain saturates southern B.C.

About 20 metres of a five to six-metre high wall gave way

RCMP investigating sexual allegation against Lower Mainland police officer

Delta officer suspended while the alleged off-duty incident involving a co-worker is investigated

Former Mountie, sports coach convicted of sex abuse in B.C. granted day parole

Alan Davidson was sentenced to almost six years for abusing seven boys in the late 1970s and early 1990s

VIDEO: Person in wheelchair narrowly avoids collision with car in Kelowna

There were no injuries in the scary looking near-accident last week in Rutland

Here’s what Canada is doing to stop the coronavirus from getting in

Health officials are monitoring multiple possible cases in Canada

B.C. still struggling to control non-resident medical care fraud

Unpaid bills, out-of-province claimants a costly legacy of MSP

Most Read