Teachers are in Calgary for an annual convention and one of the top items on the agenda is a push to put education up as an election issue.

To do this, the Alberta Teachers' Association is spending big bucks on an advertising campaign to express their messages to voters.

The writ hasn’t been dropped yet, but the ATA has committed $270,000 towards the project and registered as a third-party advertiser with Elections Alberta.

The main thing that the group wants voters to know about is the upcoming increase in class sizes, something the ads say will shove students into classrooms ‘like sardines’.

“The most important thing about teaching is relationships,” says Jenny Regal, vice-president of the ATA. “If there’s too many people in the class, we can’t get to them all.”

An estimated 15,000 new students are expected to enter Alberta’s school system in September, with more than 6,000 of those in Calgary alone.

The Education Minister already aimed some harsh words at UCP leader Jason Kenney in regards to the issue.

“Jason Kenney and the UCP have made very specific disturbing comments about not funding for those kids that are going to be showing up in the fall. I find that offensive,” said David Eggen.

Kenney has promised to freeze spending if he is elected, but the party said in a statement that won’t come at the cost of front-line services like health or education.

Regal says they want to be sure they’ll have the resources they need when September rolls around.

“If we don’t have the teachers to teach all of the new students, the classes we have now will be getting even bigger. What it comes down to is how much time does a teacher have to give to any given student on a day-to-day basis.”

The ATA only spent $60,000 on advertising during the last election.

The election will take place sometime between March and May.

(With files from Jordan Kanygin)