backgrounder

Oct. 17, 2013
for immediate release
PDF version of backgrounder

Update on facts about high school class sizes, enrolments and budgets

CALGARYThe Calgary Board of Education (CBE) has not shied away from stating that 2013-14 was a tough budget year, with a $62-million shortfall as a result of the provincial budget released last March. Decisions about how to manage this challenging budget reality were filtered through our values. With students at the forefront of all decisions, the 2013-2014 operating budget directed as much funding as possible to classrooms.

Determining how to best allocate resources is a complex endeavor, one that we take very seriously both at the system level and at the school level. 

There has been specific interest this fall in CBE enrolment, staffing levels, school budgets and high school class sizes.   

Enrolment

On Sept. 30 each year, Alberta school boards calculate their enrolment for submission to Alberta Education.  This year CBE enrolment was 110,763 – up 3,631 (3.4 per cent) from 107,132 on Sept. 30, 2012.

While overall CBE enrolment increased by 3.4 per cent, high school enrolment increased by only 1.3 per cent from 25,918 to 26,270.  Some high schools saw enrolment decreases due to changing school demographics (e.g. the opening of Robert Thirsk High School).

By far the largest jump in enrolment was in kindergarten, up 8.3 per cent.  Grades 1 to 3 increased by 6.2 per cent; Grades 4 to 6 by 5.7 per cent; and Grades 7 to 9 by .5 per cent.

For more information, see enrolment data.

Staffing

In the face of a tough provincial budget, staffing in schools has been affected.  However, with increased enrolment, the overall result is that we have 34 more teachers in schools than we had last year.  In total, based on Sept. 30 numbers, the CBE has budgeted for 5,772 full-time equivalent Alberta Teachers Association (ATA) members which is up from last year’s count of 5,738. 

Budgets

It has been inaccurately reported that the funds allocated to high schools this year decreased by as much as 11 per cent over the previous year. In fact, the budget allocation provided to high schools at the system level decreased by 4.5 per cent on average as a response to the reduced provincial budget. During the budget process, the decision was made to direct provincial funds for class size to students in kindergarten to Grade 3 (Division 1), a decision in keeping with CBE values, current research, and the expectations of Alberta Education.

High schools are allocated budgets from the overall CBE system budget provided by the province. Principals then make decisions at the school level about how to allocate their funds on behalf of their students.

Many factors contribute to school budget allocations. Schools are primarily funded based on their enrolment. If enrolment decreases, money allocated to schools decreases. Fewer students result in fewer teachers. If the student profile changes, the money allocated to schools may also change. Therefore, if some high schools experienced a larger budget cut than 4.5 per cent, that was because their enrolment decreased or their overall student profile changed.  

Factors school principals consider when staffing include the following:

  • enrolment levels
  • the student profile and student learning needs
  • the amount of time each teacher instructs students in classrooms
  • how many support staff are involved with students
  • how many option courses are offered
  • demands of particular courses (e.g. low numbers in a course due to safety requirements)
  • input from the school community.

For more budget information, see 2013-14 budget  and Budgets and Financial Statements.

Class Size

Principals’ work is complex as they make decisions around class size and staffing. Making decisions on behalf of hundreds of students is never easy. Principals make these decisions with each student in mind.

To get an accurate and full account of high school class sizes, high school principals provided the average class size and the largest class size for each of their schools as of Sept. 30, 2013. The following chart shows their responses.

School

Average Class Size

Largest Class Size

Alternative

12

23

Bowness

28

43*

Centennial

31

46*

Central Memorial

27

75*

Chinook

27

35

Crescent Heights

32

46*

Dr. E.P. Scarlett

32

76*

Ernest Manning

30

44*

Forest Lawn

26

43*

Henry Wise Wood

29

71*

Jack James

23

31

James Fowler

27

48*

John G. Diefenbaker

31

56*

Juno Beach

16

29

Lester B. Pearson

29

40*

Lord Beaverbrook

29

54*

National Sport School

24

27

Queen Elizabeth

28

41*

Robert Thirsk

28

44*

Sir Winston Churchill

30

37

Western Canada

36

43*

William Aberhart

34

47*

*The very question of class sizes brings to mind a picture of students sitting in desks with a teacher at the front of the room. The focus on personalized learning enables a different image. When you consider the numbers in the above chart, the numbers marked with an asterisk may appear high. In fact, these numbers work because of the type of learning that students are engaged in: concert band or instrumental music; various online learning opportunities; and work experience opportunities where students are learning off campus in various work sites; etc.

Student learning is at the heart of everyone's work at the CBE.  CBE students continue to achieve outstanding results as measured against provincial standards.  

-30-

Media Relations
Calgary Board of Education
403-819-2317
mediarelations@cbe.ab.ca

 

 

Content Moderator: Communication Services
Web Administrator: Leslie Miller
Last Modified: October 17, 2013