20 years ago
From the Sept. 13, 1999 edition
Class-size will be corrected
Parents, board optimistic large classes at Balbo can be fixed
As the first week of classes begin throughout the province this week, some of the same difficulties of last year begin to creep up.
Namely, there are too many students, not enough space to seat them in and too few teachers.
The only flareup so far happened at Balbo Elementary in Shoal Harbour where parents complained to the Vista school board about the class sizes for grade 7 and grade 8 students.
Each class has 38 students.
The grade 8 situation is the more pressing of the two because some of the students have, according to school council member Sylvia Blackmore, grown quite a bit over the summer.
“There are six of them who, when they put their knees under the desk, the legs (of the desk) don’t touch the floor,” Ms. Blackmore said.
It makes for a very crowded classroom, with a little room for students to move or stretch out. Some of the students have been moved to another classroom to try to ease the situation.
It also might be a fire hazard, although Ms. Blackmore is hopeful the situation can be resolved without involving the fire commissioner’s office.
The snug fit for students also meant parents were back at the school board offices on the first day of classes. Concerned parents spoke with board officials and believe the situation will be resolved by early this week.
So does the new acting director of Vista, Albert Trask. He said the assistant director of personnel was at Balbo on Friday looking at the class sizes and determining what should be done.
“By Monday or Tuesday, we will have the situation addressed in terms of trying to alleviate some of the pressure there with over enrolment with certain grade levels in the school,” Mr. Trask said.
This means the school will possibly get another half of a teaching unit. That would allow the school to divide the grade 7 and 8 classes into two smaller, and more manageable, groups.
Officials with Vista still have some teaching units to work with. The plan was to observe what happened in the first few days and use the units if any school found itself in difficulty.
So far, Balbo has been the only challenge.
“I’m quite pleased with the first three or four days of the school year. I prefer not to look at them as complaints, but as challenges to be met. We tried to be very positive and optimistic,” Mr. Trask said.
However, if Mr. Trask is remaining optimistic, Ms. Blackmore is resigned. She knew last June there would be problems at the Balbo when classes started again in September.
Although the student population remained approximately the same, Balbo found itself with fewer teaching units. They did get half a unit back in June when the Department of Education allocated more teachers to Vista, but as far as Ms. Blackmore was concerned, it still wasn’t going to be enough.
“It’s frustrating that September of every year, the first two or three days you have to be at the school board office. But if this is what it takes, we’ll be here,” she said.
15 years ago
This photo is from the Sept. 13, 2004 edition