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  NEWS RELEASE 

For Immediate Release

2006EDU0045-000497

April 27, 2006

Ministry of Education

 

NEW CLASS-SIZE LIMITS HELP IMPROVE STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT

 


VICTORIA – The Province introduced legislation today establishing new class-size limits, accountability measures and requirements for consulting with parents and teachers to help improve student achievement.

 

            “Setting maximum limits for class size and students with special needs helps improve learning for all students,” said Education Minister Shirley Bond. “This legislation builds on our students’ record of excellence by providing smaller classes, increased accountability and a greater role for parents and teachers.”

 

            Under the Education (Learning Enhancement) Statutes Amendment Act, 2006:

 

The legislation includes new measures for consulting parents and teachers on class size and composition. Principals must consult with their school planning council on class organization each year.

 

“One of the concerns we heard at the Learning Roundtable is that parents and teachers are often not involved in organizing classes,” said Bond. “This legislation ensures parents and teachers have a say in how classes are organized.”

 

The legislation also includes tough new requirements for reporting class size and composition. The superintendent must review and report on the organization of all classes in the school district. The superintendent must verify that the district is in compliance with class-size and composition legislation and that, in the opinion of the superintendent, the organization of classes in the district is appropriate for student learning.

 

For the first time ever, the superintendent must submit a report on class sizes to the school board and the district parent advisory council. The school board may accept the report, or instruct the superintendent to revise it and then forward it to the Minister of Education, who must make the report public.

 

            It is clear from our ongoing discussions at the Learning Roundtable that our education partners – parents, teachers, superintendents, principals, vice-principals and school trustees – have different views on how to address class size and composition,” said Bond. “This legislation balances many of the concerns we heard at the roundtable, in my meetings with student and parent groups, and during my visits to schools and school districts.

 

The legislation also provides a mechanism to ensure boards comply with the legislation, as recommended by industrial inquiry commissioner Vince Ready. If a school board fails to comply with class size and composition requirements, the Province will appoint a special administrator. If the board fails to follow the direction of the special administrator, the board may be dissolved and a trustee appointed to conduct the affairs of the school district.

 

There will also be an automatic review of the class-size and composition legislation. The amendments require the Minister of Education to appoint a committee within a year to review the legislation. The following representatives will be invited to sit on the committee: two each from the ministry, the B.C. School Trustees Association, the B.C. Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils, the B.C. Principals’ and Vice-Principals’ Association, and the B.C. School Superintendents Association, and four from the B.C. Teachers’ Federation.

 

“As we committed in the throne speech, we are setting firm limits on class size and composition with this legislation, while respecting local decision-making and ensuring that all education partners have a voice in improving students’ learning conditions,” said Bond. “Our government will continue to talk about class size and composition with our education partners at the Learning Roundtable, and we’ll continue to monitor class organization with the new annual report on class size and composition in B.C. public schools.”

 

The Province continues to increase funding for school districts, even though there are fewer students. Since 2000-01, the Province has increased funding to public schools by nearly $460 million, while enrolment has declined by more than 30,000 students.

 

In 2006-07, districts forecast there will be 7,000 fewer students. That is the equivalent of
$50 million in additional funding for B.C. public schools. At the same time, the Province will increase funding for school districts in 2006-07 by $20 million. In 2006-07, the average per-pupil operating grant will rise by $114 to an estimated $7,207 – the highest ever. Since 2001, the per-pupil grant has increased by $991.

 

“The latest international tests confirm that B.C. students are among the top in the world,” said Bond. “These new class-size limits, consulting requirements, accountability measures and record funding levels will help our students continue to be the very best.”

 

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 2 backgrounder(s) attached.

 

 

Media

contact:

Public Affairs Bureau

Ministry of Education

250 356-5963

 

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