Split class upheaval

An Open Letter to the Minister of Education
Dear Minister Wynne:
On behalf of St. Agnes Catholic School with the Toronto Catholic District School Board, we wish to express our concern about proposed class configurations. In particular, we are disturbed about the impact the proposed split classes will have on program quality for our children as a result of the hard cap of 90% on primary class size.
We are certain that this education policy was not intended to create six split grades when there are no split grades at the school at the present time. Two months into the school year is too late to reorganize and create upheaval for the majority of our sons and daughters that attend St. Agnes.
Our Principal, Ms. DiVittorio assured us following our Curriculum Night that the status quo would remain. It wasn’t perfect but the parents, teachers and students were content. In a letter to parents Ms. DiVittorio stated that:
“Our staffing model this year was tentative until September 30. This period of time allows the school board to balance the number of teachers with students across the TCDSB. The criteria used to determine staffing include the Ministry’s Primary Class Size and parameters of our contracts. The Ministry allows 10% of primary classes within the board to have up to 23 pupils per class. This year, our school is included in the 10% for the TCDSB. As a result there will be no class changes and the current staffing model will remain”.
The Toronto Catholic District School Board is under supervision; therefore, you are directly responsible for the Board mismanaging this issue. If a Board under your supervision cannot comply with the 90% hard cap then it follows that other Boards across the Province have had difficulty meeting your expectations. Why did the Supervisors, appointed by you let this fall through the cracks? Why did the school administrators wait so long to announce their proposals? In addition, why was this not planned out properly by the Board that is under your authority? Clearly, the educators and the parent community are on completely different wavelengths when it comes to student success. This proposal is a barrier to the progress you have made to education in the past several years.
We understand that because of this policy, suddenly, schools needed extra classrooms and portables have taken over school yards. You have provided primary class size funds for capital projects to the Toronto Catholic District School Board as a result of the need for more classroom space but to our knowledge, not one project has begun St. Agnes is directly impacted because other schools do not have the physical space to accommodate their students. Disrupting any school community almost two months into the school year is ghastly. We do not want to create turmoil for any other school.
Your education policy on primary class size is worthy of praise but not if our children’s education is sacrificed. Well intentioned and popular as it has been, the class size reduction program represents another restriction on schools that need to be more creative, not less. Your policy must allow for flexibility to cater to the student’s needs first and foremost. We ask that you work with us to develop an alternative that avoids split classes this year. We believe this can be done in a way that strengthens the public school system for everyone in our communities. If you wish to discuss this further you can reach me at 416 991 8171 or e-mail me at nick@svabinsurance.com

Nick Svab,
CCAC Chair, St. Agnes Catholic School
Please Note: Our school community will be meeting to discuss this very important issue on Tuesday October 21st at 7:00 p.m. (280 Otonabee Avenue). Trustee Maria Rizzo and Superintendent Michael McMorrow will be in attendance.