Teacher workload is being directly impacted by overcrowding in many areas of the province, and that situation is showing no sign of letting up with news of widespread delays in the construction of new schools, says Alberta Teachers’ Association president Mark Ramsankar.
Education Minister David Eggen announced Oct. 6 that he was requesting that the province’s auditor general look into the reasons behind delays of school construction and modernization projects that had been announced by the previous government.
Ramsankar said calling in the auditor general was the right move.
“I’m glad that he’s addressing it, but I’m disappointed that all the announcements that were made by the previous government haven’t come to fruition,” Ramsankar said. “And yet again, teachers in the field are left holding the bag and it continues to create a great source of stress on the system as a whole.”
Ramsankar said he’s hearing complaints from teachers and parents about the space crunch that’s occurring in overcrowded schools in many areas of the province, resulting in unwieldy class sizes and areas like school stages being used as makeshift teaching spaces.
“We’re very concerned about the delays because we know that there are some extremely crowded areas in the province,” Ramsankar said. “When you look at it in terms of teacher workload, this is a direct impact.”
Between April 2013 and February 2014, the previous government announced 50 new and expanded schools and 70 school modernizations. It then announced another 56 construction and expansion projects along with 21 modernizations between September and December 2014.
Eggen said 101 of those 197 projects will be delayed. About 20 of the projects will be delayed by a matter of months, while roughly 70 projects will be delayed by a year or more. Completion dates are still being estimated for some projects.
“I’m extremely disappointed to learn that many of the schools our province desperately needs will not open on time,” Eggen said in a news release. “Alberta families have been waiting for these schools for a long time and they deserve a reason for the delays and assurance that this won’t happen again.” ❚
Construction is underway at the site of the future Bishop David Motiuk school in west Edmonton; however, the project is one of 101 that will be delayed, the province learned recently.