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Combined classes necessary: RETSD

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A local parent’s petition to reduce the number of combined classes in the River East Transcona School Division didn’t move the division’s administration.

Tim Giesbrecht, whose children attend Donwood School, presented to the RETSD board at its June 4 meeting. The board’s senior administration team, led by superintendent Kelly Barkman, reviewed the information, and reported back to trustees at the board’s June 18th meeting.

"Trustees accepted the administration’s report regarding the practice of creating combined classes where necessary as a way to effectively and economically distribute our teaching staff across our 27 early years schools," RETSD spokeswoman Wanda McConnell said in a release, noting 72 out of the division’s 270 Grade 1 to 6 classes are combined ones.

All but four of the early years schools have at least one combined class. McConnell noted it would cost $4.4 million per year to hire 52 teachers to eliminate combined classes.

Giesbrecht did not attend the June 18 meeting, but talked with Barkman shortly after the report was released.

"I pushed him to make some kind of commitment going forward, but he really wouldn’t make any type of commitment," Giesbrecht said, noting several trustees were supportive of his petition.

Giesbrecht feels between lowering teacher salaries and rejigging the way students are distributed, there are inexpensive ways to reduce the number of combined classes.

"If we could shift classes around, maybe we only need two or three combined classes and still have five teachers for six grades," he said.

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