Nanaimo teachers’ union criticizes class composition report

Report lists all classes in Nanaimo over size or composition limits

A report listing all classrooms in Nanaimo school district that are over provincial size limits or have more than three special needs students in them fails to tell the true story of what is happening in schools, says the teachers’ union.

Superintendent Dave Hutchinson gave school trustees the report last Wednesday.

Of 333 elementary classes, one has more than 30 students and 46 have more than three students with individual education plans. Of the 796 secondary classes, 95 are over the size limit and 152 have more than three students with special needs.

Derek DeGear, president of the Nanaimo District Teachers’ Association, said he believes that number of classes with more than three special needs students is higher because there are about 250 fewer students with designated special needs this year than last year.

A provincial audit conducted last February found that students were put in the wrong designation category or a piece of evidence was missing from their files or their designation was outdated.

When designating students this fall, schools were more careful, which resulted in lower than expected numbers and fewer supports for teachers.

“It wasn’t like we had a bunch of students who were magically cured of their issues,” said DeGear. “Those needs are still present.”

The report also lists all of the oversize classes.

“There’s definitely more detail than the official class size report that goes to the [Education Ministry],” said DeGear.

But he still believes the report is inadequate because it fails to give each oversize class a separate rationale for why it’s over the limit.

The union is on its third attempt to take its issues with the superintendent’s class size report to an arbitrator.

Teachers believe a line in the report stating classes over size or composition limits are “appropriate” for student learning does not take the place of guaranteed supports for each student, added DeGear.

Hutchinson told trustees at last week’s board meeting that many of the oversize classrooms were only one or two students over the limit.

“I’m confident that these classes are worked out in the best way possible and that they are appropriate for student learning,” he said.

The report has been referred to the education committee for further discussion.


Meanwhile, talks between the province and the teachers’ union over a remedy to problems the Supreme Court identified with provincial legislation regarding classroom size and composition have broken down.

Last spring, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Susan Griffin ruled that parts of the 2002 legislation that removed certain working and learning conditions clauses, such as limits on class size and the number of special needs students in each class, from teachers’ collective agreements violated teachers’ rights to freedom of association under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The two sides have been discussing a remedy to the court ruling at a separate table while contract negotiations continue.

The province is offering to create a class organization fund, worth $165 million over the next three years, which would target classrooms with the highest needs and could be used to provide extra teaching staff or education assistants.

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation is seeking a restoration of working and learning conditions in place before 2002, to be included in teacher collective agreements.

“Clearly the Liberals believe teachers’ rights to bargain and students’ rights to quality classroom conditions must be sacrificed to management’s right to reduce thousands of teaching positions in B.C.,” said BCTF president Susan Lambert in a press release.

In an e-mailed response, Education Ministry George Abbott said he’s “extremely disappointed” that talks broke down, but the court has given the province a deadline to resolve the issues and that government would have to begin preparing corrective legislation by the end of November.

“What the union is now suggesting would require as much as a 50-per cent increase in the number of teachers in B.C. at a cost of more than $1 billion to resolve this matter,” he said. “As a result, we find ourselves at an impasse.”

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

Just Posted

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: No government interested in paying for rail right now

Rail advocates are ignoring the basic problem of affordability, says letter writer

Nanaimo Art Gallery announces new executive director

Former Prince George gallery director Carolyn Holmes to take on role

School district reveals restart plans for Nanaimo-Ladysmith

K-5 students will see two days of instruction a week, 6-12 students once a week

Missing man thought to be in Nanaimo

Nanaimo RCMP ask for public’s help in locating Kevin Golze, 45

Nanaimo painter inspired by medieval animal illustrations in new exhibition

Yvonne Vander Kooi to unveil ‘Bestiary’ via Gallery Merrick live-stream

Only four new COVID-19 cases, 228 active across B.C.

Health officials watching as activities ramp up

Feds looking at ways to reunite families amid COVID-19 border restrictions with U.S.

Some families with members of dual-citizenship have become separated due to the pandemic

B.C. aquaculture farm’s employees sweat it out to raise funds for food banks

For every five minutes of exercise recorded, Cermaq Canada is donating a dollar to local food banks in communities they operate

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Condition in kids with possible COVID-19 link being studied in Canada

This month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert to doctors about MIS-C

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

Trudeau acknowledges racial unrest in U.S.; ‘We also have work to do in Canada’

‘Anti-black racism, racism, is real; it’s in the United States, but it’s also in Canada,’ Trudeau says

RDN Transit to see rollout of 15 new HandyDart buses

Buses will have temporary protective barriers installed to prevent spread of COVID-19

United Way distributes $120,000 in federal funding to seniors in need during pandemic

Salvation Army, Eden Gardens, hospice society among groups granted money

Most Read