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Newly formed class size and composition committee in Saskatchewan set to meet

Education Minister Gordon Wyant released the membership of the class size and composition committee on Thursday.
Education Minister Gordon Wyant released the membership of the class size and composition committee on Thursday. Dave Parsons / Global News

Education Minister Gordon Wyant unveiled the members of the committee tasked with addressing issues of class size and composition, which includes six former teachers and one former Saskatchewan Party candidate.

The eight member committee is made of four ministry representatives, one from the Saskatchewan School Boards’ Association (SSBA) and three members at large.

The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF) was offered a seat at the table, but they declined. STF President Patrick Maze said he saw this as bad faith bargaining, as the STF wants class size and composition discussed in their collective bargaining process.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation says contract talks at an impasse

The STF recently declared an impasse in those talks over the government’s refusal to include this issue at the bargaining table.

“This issue is very important, larger than the STF, that’s why we have a committee representing the broader interest,” Wyant said.

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“They’re going to do their research on class size and composition to develop and make recommendations…on the path forward.”

Six of the eight members are former teachers, but Wyant said he would welcome the federation’s input at the table anytime.

“We’re very anxious to have the voice of current teachers at the committee, and we just want Mr. Maze to ensure we can have the STF voice,” said Wyant, adding that their voices are very important.

The committee members from the education ministry include Rob Currie (deputy education minister), Thomas Sierzycki (northern education advisor), Angella Pinay (senior Indigenous advisor) and Lynn Harper-Harris (student support consultant).

Sierzycki is also the former mayor of La Ronge and ran for the Saskatchewan Party in the Cumberland riding during the 2015 provincial election.

The SSBA will be represented by their president, Shawn Davidson.

Additional members include University of Saskatchewan education dean Michelle Prytula, Prairie Valley School Division school community co-ordinator Amy Redding, and parent representative Brian Lach.

Lach is a former superintendent and teacher. Wyant previously said the parent representative was to be chosen from a pool of individuals who reached out to the ministry about the committee.

The committee is scheduled to meet for the first time next week.

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“I am confident these individuals will help provide a path forward to address the challenges that exist in our classrooms,” Wyant said.

READ MORE: Classroom crowding strategy to be included in Saskatchewan’s 2020-21 budget

The work of the committee will be suited to create a framework for further discussion around class size and composition, according to the province.

Currie, Wyant’s deputy minister, will also be tasked with gathering further input from various education stakeholders around the province on class size and composition issues.

The Saskatchewan NDP were less enthusiastic about the committee.

Opposition finance critic Trent Wotherspoon called it “another committee” that will serve as a “delayed reaction” to the needs of teachers and classrooms.

“The pressures by way of class size and complexity in classrooms are so real and all of the education partners, the boards, the teachers have been so clear about how stressed classrooms are so it’s just frustrating to see another committee being announced like that’s a great big deal,” said Wotherspoon.

—With files from Mickey Djuric