The Manitoba government is moving forward to reduce kindergarten to Grade 3 class sizes with the first phase of its infrastructure plan to add additional classrooms across the province. This announcement was made by Premier Greg Selinger.
“Our investment in smaller class sizes will improve the quality of our education system by allowing students more one-on-one time with their teachers, which in turn will build a strong foundation for future learning and help students achieve academic success,” said Selinger.
The premier announced an investment of over $15 million to renovate or build 28 classrooms in six school divisions across the province through the Manitoba Building and Renewal Plan.
“By building or renovating these classrooms, we are providing students with more individual time with their teachers to help them improve their reading, writing and math skills,” said Education Minister Nancy Allan. “Our government won’t repeat short-sighted cuts to education that led to fewer teachers and larger classrooms during the 1990s.”
“We are very pleased that the Province of Manitoba has included John de Graff School in the first phase of capital projects to support the Class Size Initiative. The construction of these two additional classrooms will assist our efforts to provide the space we need to meet the requirements of this initiative,” said Robert Fraser, chair of the board of trustees, River East Transcona School Division.
The province is in its second year of moving forward with smaller class sizes and recently announced an additional $4 million to hire teachers across Manitoba. This brings the total provincial funding for smaller class sizes to $7 million in 2013-14.
In the first year of the initiative, 83 additional new teachers were hired across 31 school divisions. The premier said all of them are having a direct impact on class size that has resulted in more than a 20 per cent reduction in large kindergarten to Grade 3 classes that had 24 or more students.
Funding for smaller class size infrastructure is an addition to the province’s education capital funding that is building and renovating schools across the province, adding new gyms and renovating and building new science labs.
The province currently has five new schools under construction or in the design phase in Thompson, Winkler and Winnipeg.
The premier noted that work and planning is currently underway at George Fitton, Lord Nelson and La Verendrye schools on gymnasium expansions as part of the province’s plan to improve gym facilities across Manitoba. The old gymnasiums at these schools will be renovated to provide additional classrooms to support smaller classes in kindergarten to Grade 3.
Since 1999, the Manitoba government has invested more than $845 million in public school capital projects including 18 new schools and 13 replacement schools, and has completed extensive renovations and additions to dozens of existing schools.