As the deadline for enrollment reports in Saskatchewan schools approaches, divisions are getting creative to manage crowded cla*ses as capacity fluctuates.
“We have had to work closely with schools to be creative in converting breakout spaces, art rooms and science rooms into cla*srooms to accommodate increased growth,” said Luisa Jiocoli-Clark, superintendent of Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools.
She noted that in Saskatoon, the Evergreen and Stonebridge neighborhoods have higher registration rates than other neighborhoods in the city.
“These are new neighborhoods that are still under construction. »
Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation president Samantha Becotte said the group is predicting overcrowded cla*srooms this year, saying it’s the result of a decade of underfunding of education in the province.
Becotte said he has seen cla*ses reach more than 30 students per cla*s and urban cla*ses reach 40 or more in some cases.
“I heard teachers from the northern regions say that 36 students showed up at school for their first day of cla*ses and that they did not have enough desks for these children. They were allowed to sit on the floor or on a side bench.
According to a release from the Ministry of Education, the average cla*s size of a Saskatchewan school for the 2022/2023 school year was 22 students.
Enrollment reports for this school year will not be sent to the province until September 30 and cla*s sizes are still subject to change.
“Make comments on this year’s entries before September 30th would be premature and speculative,” read an email from Regina Public Schools.
They noted that the Harbor Landing and Southeast neighborhoods have seen considerable growth this year and that schools in those areas are near capacity.
“Regina Public Schools is working to balance cla*s sizes by appropriately allocating support to teachers and cla*ses,” Regina Public Schools said. “This could involve moving teachers and teaching a*sistants to where enrollment is increasing. You will no doubt hear that some teachers may move cla*srooms, or even schools, in the coming weeks.
But Becotte said it’s not just increasing cla*s sizes that are causing problems in school divisions.
“We are also seeing that the complexities and needs of our students are increasing as well. »
She said that over the past five years, the number of students needing additional support has increased by 40 percent.
“If teachers are not able to go around the cla*sroom and check on students one by one and not just run from one student to the next with their hand raised…”
Becotte said these issues could be addressed with increased funding from the provincial education budget.
“We need it to be consistent and reliable. You can’t hire additional staff if you don’t know if that funding will be available next year or the year after that.
Becotte said she met with the new education minister Monday to discuss cla*sroom issues and funding shortfalls.
“I reminded the minister that actions speak louder than words and I have heard words from politicians in this province before, but I need to start seeing action. Children need to start seeing their education as a priority for this province.
The Regina Catholic Schools Division said it will welcome more than 1,000 new students this fall, which will impact funding.
“A dramatic jump like that certainly requires us to add staff, arrange physical space for cla*srooms, and find more desks and other learning materials, which in turn has an impact on the budget,” reads a statement from the division to PKBNEWS.
In fashion now
The Saskatoon Public Schools Division said it needs more schools in the city to accommodate rising enrollment.
“The school division has experienced consistent enrollment growth in the east and northeast parts of Saskatoon in particular and the new schools in this area of the city would serve the growing populations of these communities,” reads a statement from the Saskatoon Public Schools.
In a statement to PKBNEWS, the Ministry of Education said it has no influence over controlling cla*s sizes, saying it is a matter for school divisions.
“Decisions regarding cla*s sizes are made by school divisions at the local level, allowing flexibility to meet unique conditions and needs,” the release read.
Although organizations have drawn attention to overcrowded and underfunded cla*srooms, the government has insisted on its commitment to funding enrollment.
“The Government of Saskatchewan is committed to funding enrollment growth. That’s why, on June 1, 2023, the province announced an additional $40 million to Saskatchewan school divisions to support enrollment growth and the complexity of today’s cla*srooms.
“$20 million of this new funding will ensure that enrollment growth above school divisions’ initial projections for the 2023-2024 school year is fully funded. Enrollment growth funding is provided to school divisions based on actual enrollment to ensure funding is allocated where need is greatest.
“The remaining $20 million will be available to allow school divisions to hire cla*sroom staff and other support staff to address challenges related to cla*sroom complexity for the 2023-2024 school year. This additional funding brings the operating budget for Saskatchewan’s 27 school divisions to a record investment of $2.08 billion for the 2023-24 school year, an increase of $89.4 million or 4.5 percent. cent compared to the 2022-2023 school year.
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