By John DeCoste
Nova Scotia’s Department of Education will continue a province-wide cap on the size of school classes at the lower elementary level.
Education Minister Ramona Jennex confirmed in a Jan. 31 news release that she will instruct school boards to cap the number of students in Primary classes at 25, wherever possible.
“I have been hearing from parents, teachers and others that keeping class sizes low is important to them,” Jennex said. “That’s why the class size cap put into place this school year will continue next year and into the future.”
Jennex, a former elementary school teacher, added, “we are investing in our youngest students so they can get their best start in school.”
Funding for the cap is now built into the school board funding formula.
“While most of the province is undergoing enrolment decline, the cap targets areas that are experiencing growth and creates fairness in class sizes across Nova Scotia,” Jennex said.
Annapolis Valley Regional School Board superintendent Margo Tait said she totally agrees with the idea of capping class sizes at the lower elementary level, providing there is sufficient funding to support it.
“We implemented the cap for younger students this year,” Tait said. “Keeping reasonable class sizes (at those grade levels) was one of our top priorities.”
She stressed, however, the board did that at the expense of some other things.
“There were other things we weren’t able to do at all, or had to reduce,” she added.
Tait noted that unless there is sufficient funding forthcoming to support the new parameters, the board would have no choice but to follow a similar path this year.
Average class sizes this year are:
Grade Primary – 20
Grade 1 – 21
Grades 2 and 3 – 22
Grades 4, 5, and 6 – 23.
According to the Department of Education, the class size cap this year resulted in the hiring of more than 70 teachers.