Bill 22 maintains all existing class size limits

Education Minister George Abbott explains why the government passed Bill 22.

Editor:

Re: Job action only way teachers can protest against chronic underfunding of schools [May 15, 2012]

I am writing to correct claims made by Derek DeGear about Bill 22.

It was clear that prolonged strike activity was not in the best interests of students. Accordingly, government passed Bill 22 to suspend the union’s strike action and establish a mediation process to facilitate bargaining.

Government appointed Dr. Charles Jago to mediate contract talks.

Jago is the former president of the University of Northern British Columbia, has held academic appointments in Canadian universities for more than 40 years and received the Order of Canada. His experience provides a real opportunity to help resolve issues and reach an agreement.

Bill 22 maintains all existing class size limits. Kindergarten classes cannot exceed 22 students, Grades 1-3 classes cannot exceed 24 students and Grades 4-12 classes will have a maximum of 30 students. As before, classes in Grades 4-12 can exceed 30 students in exceptional circumstances, but only with the approval of the principal and superintendent.

Bill 22 provides classroom teachers with additional compensation when a class exceeds 30 students. Teachers can take this compensation as a salary increase, additional preparation time or professional development funding.

Bill 22 implements a $195-million Learning Improvement Fund to increase support for students with special needs. School districts will have additional resources to hire more teachers and education assistants and support professional development.

The Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district will receive $1,487,664 through the Learning Improvement Fund next year.

I encourage all parties to make the most of the opportunity provided by mediation, move beyond the challenges that have characterized this school year and work together to improve our education system.

George Abbott

Minister of Education