Saturday, March 31, 2012

Bill 22 and Class Size/Class Composition

Bill 22 eliminates all class composition limits. There is no longer a need to report or consult regardless of the number of students with an IEP in a single class. Nothing will now prevent Administrators from "clustering" students with an IEP into classes and nothing ensures they will receive adequate support or have access to adequate teacher time and specialist teacher time.

In addition, the Bill removes class size averages, allowing for classes over 30 without having to "balance out" with some smaller classes. Now a District can have a high class size average and many classes over 30.

The Minister has released the Ministerial Regulations regarding the "cash for kids" section of Bill 22.

This section provides for additional compensation for teachers who are assigned classes over 30, except for exempted classes.

The exempted classes are:

* all adult education classes
* all continuing education classes
* all distributed learning classes
* all work study and work experience classes
* all specialty academy classes
* all music classes including band, choir, instrumental music and orchestra
* all performing arts classes including drama and dance
* all Planning 10 classes
* all board authorized leadership classes

For these exempted classes, there is no limit and no additional compensation, no matter what the class size. In other words, nothing prevents these classes from being in the 50 - 100 range. Also, because this is a regulation, it does not have to go back to the legislature to be changed. The Ministry can add more classes at any time by writing a new regulation. This is just a bureaucratic task.

The formula for additional compensation basically calculates a "cost per student" by taking the average teacher salary and dividing by thirty. So, if the average teacher salary is $60,000, then the cost per student is $2000. Thus, a teacher who has 32 students enrolled in a class all year full time would be paid an additional $2000 per student, which in this example would be $4000. The formula also only pays nine of the ten months of the school year (so the actual amount paid would be $1800), and does not take into account additional costs such as benefits and overhead costs.

What does this mean?

It means that for any given grade or subject area, it is cheaper for a District to overload classes than to hire additional teachers. If an extra 29 students can be spread around into oversize classes, that will be $2000 less than the salary of an additional teacher. Not until a whole additional class of 30 is reached does it become economically equivalent to hire another teacher. Anything less, and the cheaper option is to overload.

Consider, for example, a school with 105 Grade 6 students. The cost of having three classes of 35 would be $210,000 (based on the $60,000 average salary). The cost of having four classes - three of 26 and one of 27 - would be $240,000. 

Not only is Bill 22 likely to lead to increased class size, up to as much as in the 50's potentially, but it will also lead to fewer teachers. Consider the example above where the school creates 3 classes of 35 instead of the 4 smaller classes. This also means for the existing 4 teachers, now only 3 are needed. If you spread this across the District, a worst case scenario would see up to 25% of teachers lose their jobs. Now this is not likely to happen immediately, but remember that in the first year after Bill 28 came into effect, approximately 2500 teachers province wide lost their jobs - close to 10% of the contract teachers currently employed. Given that the budget for school Districts next year does not include an increase to even cover inflation, it is reasonable to expect at least 3-5% job losses, if not more.


  1. So basically, there are no real class limits and there is some financial encouragement for teachers to enrol more students. Disgusting.

  2. Correction Ian, teachers don't want to enrol more students, it would be the bean counters who only care about budget that would want to overload classes.