An increase in the number of classrooms in the school district has not kept pace with the number of students needing extra attention, says Kamloops-Thompson Teachers Association.
Class composition has been a continual concern with B.C.’s public school teachers since 2002. The BCTF maintains that a lack of resources for students with special needs worsened since the provincial government stripped their right to bargain on the issue.
David Komljenovic, KTTA president, says in a report he presents to school trustees Monday night that while there has been a small decrease in district classes with composition issues in recent years, statistics don’t tell the whole story and the overall trend has worsened.
“While there was a small decrease, members are still reporting more complex issues with designated students, it is clear that within the district and province the situation has deteriorated since 2007-2008 when the government started to collect these statistics,” Komljenovic notes.
Submission of the KTTA report coincides with a district report on class composition from Bill Hamblett, assistant schools superintendent. Statistics in Hamblett's report suggests that Kamloops-Thompson School District classes with four or more students requiring an individual education plan generally fall below the provincial average. District figures show the number of such classrooms exceeds the provincial average from kindergarten to Grade 4 but is lower for more senior grades and averages 18 percent compared to 24 percent overall provincewide.
The KTTA, a BCTF local, plans to continue to draw public attention to the problem while pursuing grievances relating to use of an Education Fund set up in 2014 to address specific class-composition problem areas.
Last spring, the B.C. Court of Appeal ruled in favour of the provincial government in an ongoing legal dispute on the matter. The appeal court overturned 2011 rulings by a B.C. Supreme Court judge that the government had breached teachers’ constitutional right of freedom of association and failed to negotiate in good faith.
Last year’s decision means legislation enacted in 2012 by the provincial government, removing class sizes and composition from the collective agreement, is legal.