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Teachers appeal arbitrator's ruling on class size report

The Nanaimo District Teachers' Association is attempting to take its case against a class-size report to an arbitrator again.

The Nanaimo District Teachers' Association is attempting to take its case against the superintendent's class-size report to an arbitrator for a third time.

Two different arbitrators have ruled that the NDTA's dispute with the district is not something that can be dealt with through the arbitration process.

Between the two arbitrators' decisions not to hear the case, the NDTA took its case to the Supreme Court, but adjourned the matter when an arbitrator's ruling for another district led lawyers to believe the matter could be dealt with by an arbitrator after all.

Now the NDTA and the B.C. Teachers' Federation have taken the second arbitrator's decision to the B.C. Court of Appeal and are asking that the decision be set aside and the matter referred to a new arbitrator.

Derek DeGear, NDTA president, said the union believes the arbitrator's decision not to hear the case – the ruling was that the matter had to do with the relationship between trustees and the superintendent and cannot be grieved by teachers – was incorrect.

He said the report is a part of the process outlined in Bill 33, a process which teachers are involved in.

The union alleges that the superintendent's annual class size report for trustees fails to include a rationale for all classrooms in the district with more than 30 students – the report gives two general reasons for oversize classrooms. The union wants a separate rationale for each oversized class.

"Ultimately, it could have been solved if the board had provided more information on the class size reports," said DeGear.

But the report that trustees passed on to the Education Ministry two weeks ago contained no more information than previous reports, he added.

There are 123.5 classes that exceed 30 students in the district this fall, up from 84 last fall. The report states that 104 of these classrooms are over the limit so the district can offer "a full array of programs and services", and 18.5 are oversized because a larger grouping of students supports the needs of the program.

Nanaimo school district officials did not have a comment on the appeal by press time.