Waterloo Region already leads Canada when it comes to private classroom seats per capita, but labour unrest at public elementary schools has private schools fielding even more phone calls than usual.

Principals at several local private schools say they’ve been hearing more interest than they’re used to.

And some of that is even translating to new registrations.

“In the three days before the public system went back to school (after Christmas), we registered four new students who came to us because they were upset with the day that happened in December,” says Fred Gore, principal of Scholars Hall in Kitchener.

Private schools like Scholars Hall say they have several advantages over their public and Catholic counterparts, including smaller class sizes, more student-teacher interaction and a flexible curriculum.

Private school parent Diana Chaplain agrees.

“If you want something done, you have interested parties, teachers and principals who are interested to know because your money is being spent toward this private education,” she says.

There are approximately 50 private schools operating in Waterloo Region, each with their own advantages and drawbacks.

One common drawback is cost. Tuition at private schools in southwestern Ontario can range from $2,000 to $20,000 each year, depending on the school.

Barb Bierman of the Ontario Federation of Independent Schools says private schools are expensive, but should be looked at as an investment.

“There are barriers here for sure, that we would love to see changed over time, but I also think that it’s a matter of investment and investment means sacrifice,” she says.

Grade 12 student Kian Brooks normally attends public school, but he’s spending his co-op semester at Scholars Hall. He says he sees differences between the two types of school.

“At a public school, a teacher sees 1,000 students every day, so there’s not very much teacher interaction,” he says.

“But in a private school, it’s like you see 15 kids every day. You’re like a family.”

The Ontario Federation of Independent Schools says there are 126,000 students enrolled in private schools across Ontario, and another 6,000 who are home-schooled. Those numbers combine to represent six per cent of the entire Ontario student population.