WINNIPEG – Elementary school classrooms in Manitoba will no longer be capped at 20 students.
The provincial government is getting rid of the mandatory class size cap for kindergarten through grade three classes in public schools. It was introduced by the previous NDP government in 2011.
Starting next year, school divisions will be able to set their own class sizes. The Progressive Conservative government says the idea is to give school division more autonomy and flexibility to do what works for them.
The government will be providing a new grant of $16 million dollars this year to be split between all Manitoba school divisions.
The idea behind the smaller classrooms initiative was to have 90 per cent of Kindergarten to Grade 3 classes under 20 students. Right now 69.8 per cent of classrooms are under the cap.
Education Minister Ian Wishart says school divisions can use their share of the money to keep classes sizes down if they want, but it won’t be required.
“A lot of the school divisions are telling us that the flexibility that we’re offering them with this change is greatly appreciated and they’ll be able to make it work for them.”
Many school divisions hired new teachers because of the class size cap but Wishart says he doesn’t believe any teachers will lose their jobs because of this.
Colleen Carswell, Chair of the River East Transcona School Division Board, agrees.
“We still need teachers to teach in our classrooms. Right now, we don’t see that as an issue.”
The NDP government at the time, kicked in $20 million dollars to hire more teachers and gave money to add classrooms too.
Wishart says assessments done on grade three students’ reading and numeracy don’t show an improvement in how kids are learning with the smaller classes.
He says the tories will be tracking the performance of students in early years, over the next four years.