The implementation of new classroom cap sizes in Ontario will result in the loss of teaching positions in the Bluewater District School Board.
The Progressive Conservative provincial government recently announced changes to class room sizes that will see higher ratios for teacher to number of students in Grades 4 to 8, and in high schools from Grades 9 to 12.
The average class size in Grades 4 to 8 is set to increase by one student, from 23 to 24. While in high school classrooms the average number of students will jump by six, from 22 to 28.
Bluewater District School Board Director of Education Alana Murray says there is little anticipated impact within the board in the elementary classrooms affected, as the number of students already falls within range of the government proposition.
However, Murray says the shift proposed for high school classrooms has raised a number of concerns at the board level. She says it will result of the elimination of 40 to 50 full-time equivalent teaching positions in the Bluewater District School Board.
Murray says the province has indicated the job reductions will be achieved through attrition, allowing the new cap sizes to be phased-in over a four-year period when retiring or departing teachers would not be replaced.
Class size caps in secondary schools are calculated on a board-wide average, Murray explains, based on various program levels. She says students who may encounter more struggles with learning are in smaller classrooms that are currently capped at 16 to 1 in Bluewater District School Board schools, while more academic programs may go as high as 31 students.
"We are worried about those struggling learners," Murray explains. "And we're worried about the impact it has on staff because it's already a complex and difficult job ... and to add more to their plates is not in the best interests of everyone."
Another area impacted by the class size changes Murray points to is specialized programming. She says as teachers exit the profession, depending on their area of speciality or qualification, those qualifications may not be able to be replaced by the board.
"Technology, music or French, any of those speciality areas are difficult to replace now," Murray says. "So they'll be even more difficult if those are experienced teachers who are retiring."