The chair of the Thames Valley District School Board has written a letter to province’s Minister of Education, expressing concern over the recent ministry announcements and the impact the changes will have on students.
At the school board meeting on Tuesday, trustees unanimously passed a motion directing TVDSB chair Arlene Morell to pen a letter to Minister Lisa Thompson.
Morell says staff continue to analyze the impact the announcements made to date will have on students as the board continues to wait for Grants for Student Needs to be released.
“As advocates of public education and as we promote and support public education the board of trustees felt that it was important for the minister of education to hear from us relative to what our opportunities are and what our challenges will be moving forward,” Morell says.
While the letter says the school board does not anticipate the need for any teaching layoffs at the moment, they say they have “significant concerns” about the implications of the proposed changes on students.
Morell says the great concern is over the impact larger class sizes will have in rural schools.
“Certainly larger class sizes in our rural schools will signicicantly impact the program offerings that we're able to provide in our rural communities,” Morell says.
Morell says the proposed changes will impact programming and pathways for secondary students and narrow the scope of what schools can offer. She says the problem is only exacerbated in smaller schools where there is less enrollment and flexibility in larger schools.
Other areas of concern the letter addresses is the loss of funding for elementary school staffing and reduced funding for early childhood educators in full day kindergarten programs.
There’s also concerns over mandatory online learning courses. Morell says while eLearning works for some students, not everyone thrives using technology in their learning.
The letter says ministry staff should seek advice from boards that have learned first-hand the challenges and opportunities of eLearning program implementation.
Another area of concern is the safety and wellbeing of students.
The letter states that larger class sizes will impact personal development, student behavior and important personal connections.
Former Thames Valley District School Board Director Bill Tucker, who is now an associate professor with Western University’s Faculty of Education tells CTV news he is pleased to see the board taking action.
“I would say reading the letter, parents and students can take solace knowing that the trustees and school board admin are working hard advocating on their behalves,” Tucker says.
Tucker served as director from 2008 until August 2013.