Class size and complexity have remained hot topics as further STF job action takes place this week with southeast schools taking a look at how their classes are faring.
Southeast Cornerstone Public School Division Director of Education Keith Keating said, that the school division uses a staffing formula to make decisions about how many students will be in each class.
The formula is based on the average class size is about 23 students per teacher. They then consider any individual learning needs of the students within those classrooms, to see what kind of support would be necessary in that classroom and adjust accordingly.
“Some might reach as high as the low thirties; some may reach as low as the mid-teens,” said Keating.
Each school in the division is given the same staffing formula and it is used as the school's discretion to decide how the classrooms should be staffed.
Multigrade classrooms have also come into question by the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation as a point of contention in their job action.
Keating notes that the practice is quite common throughout the province, including larger city centers such as Regina and Saskatoon which routinely have 2 graded classes. He says the difference in this division is the smallest school may only have a few students per grade and in those situations, you may have classrooms with up to 4 grades in them.
“That’s determined by a number of factors, like the age of the students, how many in each grade, the complexity of the needs in that class, and the subjects being taught.”
Enrollment numbers in schools across the province have come under scrutiny, but in the Southeast, the growth seen in schools is not as drastic as in larger areas.
Keating explained that Estevan and Weyburn have seen the biggest growth of all the schools in the division, but rural schools have remained steady. He notes that it isn't too big of an increase, with around 50 additional students.
The number of teaching staff has been affected in the past few years. Since 2015 teacher numbers have been down in the division due to budget cuts, but the number of educational assistants has increased within this time frame.
“EAs are more focused on individual student supports, whether that be behavioral needs or medically complex needs in a classroom. They are assigned to those students who need intensive one-on-one support in a classroom,” said Keating. “As opposed to a teacher who oversees the entirety of the needs of the entire classroom.”
He said in the last 10 years the division has added around 30 EAs to classrooms, as the need for those supports has increased.
Inflation has continued to play a role in the overall cost of education in the past few years.
"Five years ago, a bus cost about $98,000 whereas today it costs around $148,000," said Keating.