P.E.I. needs 20-25 more teachers, says union

More teachers need to be hired to keep classroom sizes manageable, says the head of the P.E.I. Teachers' Federation.

Rezoning not enough, says union leader

P.E.I. needs to hire more teachers to get classroom sizes down, says the P.E.I. Teachers' Federation. (Lindsay Carroll/CBC)

More teachers need to be hired to keep classroom sizes manageable, says the head of the P.E.I. Teachers' Federation.

Federation president Bethany MacLeod said she knows of primary classrooms with up to 30 kids and some high school classes with more than 45 students.

MacLeod estimates there's a need for 20 to 25 more teachers, but said she'll have a better idea when students numbers for next year are given to principals, which is expected shortly.

Rezoning provisions are not enough, says Bethany MacLeod. (CBC)

Just last month the province completed a schools review process meant to more evenly distribute education resources around the province, but she doesn't think the student rezoning that's being done for September will solve the problem.

"We feel that the changes that are going to be implemented are going to fall short of what we really need in our system," said MacLeod.

"There's not going to be adequate supports for our students and our teachers."

The federation is running advertisements to raise awareness on the issue. MacLeod wants the province to drop the hiring freeze announced with the school reorganization.

She is also looking at including classroom sizes and composition in upcoming bargaining with the province, something she said has been done in B.C.

Department hopes to 'reach a better balance'

In an email statement, P.E.I.'s Education Minister Doug Currie said he met with all Island educators last week, and assured them the government is committed to maintaining all full time positions, based on current enrolments — which he said are stabilizing.

"Government was pleased to hold funding of $1.6 million in this year's budget for the 10 teachers and 15 educational assistants we added last fall to address class composition and support students with special needs. We were also pleased to provide additional support of $700,000 this year to support student well-being," he said.

"We recognize that some classes are significantly higher or lower than we would like, and we are working closely with the two education authorities to monitor enrolments and class size. Rezoning is a positive step forward in helping us to reach a better balance."

With files from Mainstreet and Laura Chapin