Reducing class sizes to 15 students in Ottawa's public elementary schools would require hiring more than 1,000 teachers or reassigning teachers from non-classroom roles this September.
In response to an inquiry from a Trustee, staff with the Ottawa Carleton District School Board said 1,000 new classrooms would need to be created to lower class sizes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 200,000 people have signed a petition to reduce class sizes in elementary schools across Ontario this fall.
OCDSB Trustee Justine Bell told staff that she received hundreds of messages and emails over the past weekend, the majority from parents and teachers in regards to elementary school class sizes. Trustee Bell asked what would be the budget and space implications if the board choose to limit the number of students in the classroom.
In response, staff said that "based on current projections and without knowing the number of parents/families who may opt for remote learning, staff has estimated that limiting class size to 15 students in grades 1 to 8 would require approximately 1,000 new elementary home room classes being established."
Staff add that each home room would require hiring 1.19 FTE elementary teachers or reassigning teachers from non-classroom roles.
No cost estimate to create 1,000 new elementary classes was contained in the report.
The Ottawa Carleton District School Board told parents that class sizes are capped for the coming school year as follows:
Kindergarten: OCDSB average class size is 25; the maximum class size is 29 students per class, wherever possible the class may be divided into 2 groups;
Grades 1, 2, 3: OCDSB average class size is 19; 90% of classes have 20 or fewer students; 10% of classes have up to 23 students;
Grades 4, 5, 6: OCDSB average class size is 24.5; there is no maximum class size, but most are below 30;
Grades 7, 8: OCDSB average class size is 24.5; there is no maximum class size, but most are below 30
The Ottawa public school board has received funding to hire additional custodial staff.
Ontario has announced an additional $30 million for school boards to hire additional teachers this year.