iPolitics: Ford government increase class sizes in bid to save cash

TORONTO—The Ford government is loosening restrictions on class sizes in Ontario as it tries to cut down a multi-billion dollar deficit.

The union representing secondary school teachers is already warning that the gap between the planned changes and class sizes protected in collective agreements is “unbridgeable.”

The average high school class size will be raised from 22 students to 28 students, the government announced Friday morning. Education Minister Lisa Thompson made the announcement at the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto.

The news is part of a major overhaul of the education system and the provincial curriculum, including highly anticipated and controversial changes to sex-education.

In a backgrounder provided by the government, the change in class size was justified to “align” it more closely with other jurisdictions in Canada.

The average class size of 28 students will have to be maintained school-board wide for grades 9-12. School operations funding will be adjusted accordingly.

The government says the change in class sizes will be phased in over four years.

Thompson did not say how much money will be saved once the changes are fully implemented, but she said this year it represents less than one per cent of the education budget.

There will be no change to class caps for students in kindergarten through Grade 3 for the 2019-20 school year.

The average class size for grades 4 to 8 in 2019-20 will also stay the same at 24.5 students, but the funding ratio will go up slightly from funding based on 23.83 students to 24.5 students per class.

The government says it’s still consulting on class size, so more changes are possible.

More to come.

Article by Marieke Walsh for iPolitics