Schools welcome delay despite
critic’s comment

Mar 21, 2007
By Teresa Latchford, Staff Writer

York Region's Catholic school board will happily take another year to bring class sizes down to 20 students.

Education Minister Kathleen Wynne gave the province's school boards an extension on implementing its cap on kindergarten to Grade 3 classes. That led Oak Ridges Tory MPP Frank Klees to quip she was taking "her rightful place in the renowned McGuinty Liberal promise breakers club".

But York Catholic District School Board spokesperson Chris Cable welcomed extra time to accommodate the change.

"York Region boards are growth boards," she said. "We can't build facilities fast enough to keep up with demand."

Decreasing the number of students means more classrooms are needed.

So implementing the cap in September 2008, instead of this fall as originally planned, provides more time to review split classes and facility capacities.

"We are a board that has traditionally had lower class sizes to begin with," Ms Cable added. "It has been a challenge to meet this mandate, but we are committed to doing so."

The York Region District School Board was prepared to meet the original deadline, but the extension allows it to address parents' concerns about students being bused out of their neighbourhood to meet the target.

"We are positioned to reach the original target," board spokesperson Ross Virgo said. "It has been a four-year process."

Larger Ontario school boards asked the ministry to extend the deadline, but Mr. Klees was critical of the government for backing down on what Premier Dalton McGuinty called the most important plank in his election platform.

Ms. Wynne has made it clear school boards are still expected to meet the goal of 90 per cent of primary classes having no more than 20 students by the new deadline.

The remaining 10 per cent must have no more than 23 students.

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