Province provides update on introduction, notes need for added space at some schools
Education minister Darin King, along with senior representatives for the school districts and teachers in the province, say they expect to face challenges as they introduce full-day Kindergarten in Newfoundland and Labrador, but are on track to begin in September 2016.
Darin King. — Telegram file photo
King said about 140 teachers need to be hired and readied for the required program.
More significantly, administrators are now deep into evaluating available space and determining what will be needed.
Of about 190 schools in the province, 163 may undergo some internal renovations to accommodate the full-day Kindergarten plans. At present, six schools are confirmed to need modular classrooms or an extension, to provide the required space. And site visits are still being completed for some other schools, with plans yet to be finalized at 21 locations.
A complete list of schools and where they stand has been published online by the provincial Department of Education.
“Not all of these facilities will be ready for 2016,” King said, of having the slated construction work completed.
In response to the ever-approaching start date, schools are planning for what King said were temporary team-teaching situations, with more than one teacher in a classroom to allow for class sizes beyond the government’s set cap.
He committed to having no more than 28 students in a classroom and no more than 14 students per teacher.
Even given space considerations, he said, the province has opted not to hold back the launch on the program and wait on construction.
“Our government has made the decision we’re not prepared to do that,” he said, later explaining schools are never in a static state when it comes to numbers, demands on space and construction asks.
Waiting on planned construction, King said, could mean never seeing full-day Kindergarten introduced, or seeing a case wherein children and parents in one part of the province have the option but those in another part of the province do not, due to space restrictions.
During his address, at the District School on Strawberry Marsh Road, King and the senior school and teacher representatives, spoke to the cameras, but also to the few dozen teachers and early childhood educators in attendance.
The teachers and educators were on hand for “Play the Kindergarten Way,” a two-day workshop on early literacy and “play-based learning.”
Read the response from the teachers in tomorrow’s print and digital editions.