Comparisons to other provinces were a point of discussion at this week’s Prairie South School Board meeting. 

Trustee Patrick Boyle previously requested a report on the comparisons between Prairie South School Division and provinces where staffing ratios and class size and complexity are written into their provincial collective agreements. 

“What I think is very interesting when you look at Prairie South in comparison to a lot of these other jurisdictions, is we’re doing quite well,” said Boyle of the report. 

Ratio comparisons can be found on page 10 of the Prairie South School Division’s May 7, 2024, Agenda here.  

When it comes to Kindergarten, Prairie South has a ratio of 20:1. Out of the ratios provided, Ontario has the highest at 26:1 and PEI has the lowest at 15:1. 

For Grades 1 through 3, Prairie South has a ratio of 20:1. While New Brunswick shows a ratio of 21:1 from Grades 1 and 2, it is highest for Grade 3 at 26:1. Both PEI and BC show ratios of 22:1 from Grades 1 through 3. 

For Grades 4 through 12 at Prairie South, it’s a 25:1 ratio for Moose Jaw and 23:1 rurally. This is slightly lower in Ontario at 24.5:1 for Grades 4-8, and 23:1 for Grades 9-12. It is highest in New Brunswick at 26:1, or 29:1 wherever reasonable.  

Boyle expressed concerns with mandating ratios in a collective agreement, suggesting that the division could see a net negative impact. “These ratios – if they come in and the classroom size level is at a higher level, the provincial government will provide funding to that level. That means, to us, we would not have funding for certain positions of teachers – we could be looking at an actual reduction in services to our school division.” 

Trustee Shawn Davidson also expressed concerns with ratios being dictated by larger centres. “There’s not a lot of decisions that come out of Regina and Saskatoon that are particularly good for Mankota. That’s why we have locally elected schoolboards. We live in the communities, we understand their needs, we understand their complexities.” 

“We continue to advocate to the province for the funding that we need to be able to accomplish what we’re doing around this table,” added Trustee Crystal Froese. 

Trustee Lew Young spoke about the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation's vote at the meeting, prior to the collective agreement vote taking place. He said that they needed to appreciate the role of democracy. "When they vote, that gives instructions for whatever takes place, and how they proceed that way, too. That doesn't mean that everybody in your school division or everybody in the province is going to agree with what that is."

"As a board, an administration, we have set out a little bit about how we feel it's going to affect Prairie South. But again, democracy says - whatever happens, let the chips fall, and then we have to work around it that way. So be it," he added.

STF president Samantha Becotte has previously pointed to concerns around class size and complexity being addressed by local school boards, as boards no longer have the ability to raise revenue. She has also raised concerns regarding dispute resolution if class size and complexity are not included in the collective agreement.