Calgary mother Tracey Mooney was shocked to find out her Grade 6 son was sharing a classroom with 36 other students.
“It’s too many. They can’t learn. There are special needs, there are all these different things involved in a class and when you have that many kids, that’s when people get lost,” Mooney said.
Last year, her son was in a class of 25 students at David Thompson Middle School in the neighbourhood of Acadia.
“If we had gone and he had 30 kids in his class I would have been disappointed, but I wouldn’t have been angry. But 37 is too many.”
Mooney took her concerns to a Calgary Board of Education (CBE) public meeting Tuesday, where board chair Marilyn Dennis explained that the board had to make difficult decisions with its previous budget.
“In the springtime we… took a very prudent approach to our budgeting. We are assuming that even with increased enrollment, that our funding level will remain flat,” Dennis said.
In June, Finance Minister Travis Toews announced the government would fund new students in grade schools, but did not reveal how much it would cost.
“Principals have made their best decisions possible based on their current enrolment… and also we’re waiting on the provincial government to provide us with a budget, and will make adjustments depending on that,” Dennis said.
It is unclear how many oversized classrooms there are in Calgary this school year – the CBE said it does not have data on class sizes available this school year.
Last year, the NDP government publicly released classroom size numbers which showed some Calgary high schools, like Ernest Manning High School, had class sizes of up to 47 students.
Dennis said if the provincial budget includes more money for school boards than initially predicted, principals could then work to reduce classroom sizes.
“I want to make sure my kids have as many options for their future that I can provide. But 37 kids, it seems to me like he might get lost. Then I’m not doing my best for him,” Mooney said.