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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 18, Number 5, March 2006

Major win on class-size arbitration

The BCTF has won a significant arbitration on class-size limits. The BC Public School Employers’ Association had taken a number of positions that were potentially harmful to students and to education. One of the most bizarre positions of BCPSEA was that the employer had to adhere to legislated class-size limits only on one day a year, September 30. At one point the arbitrator characterized the position of BCPSEA as "quite unconvincing." The decision of arbitrator Don Munroe represents a significant win for the Federation.

A preliminary review of the award shows that the arbitrator ruled in favour of the union on the following points:

  1. The school district must be in compliance with the statutory maximums and averages by September 30. Thereafter, compliance is a continuing obligation throughout the school year.
  2. Kindergarten/primary split and primary/intermediate split classes must adhere to the maximums for Kindergarten (22) and primary (24).
  3. In determining the class-size aggregates for Kindergarten and 13 classes "rounding down" in order to achieve compliance is not permitted.
  4. The union is not required to identify an express provision in the collective agreement in order to show a breach of the maximums and/or averages.

This arbitration once again confirms that class-size limits in legislation are enforceable by teachers. It also illustrates why it is nearly impossible to negotiate an agreement with BCPSEA.

– Peter Owens



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