While enrolment figures won’t be final until the end of the month, School District 72 should see a slight increase in the number of students.
At the Sept. 25 board of education meeting, interim superintendent Jim Cambridge updated the trustees on student numbers, saying as it stood there are an estimated 30 more students this year than last September.
“I’m always hesitant to give a prediction of where our enrolment will be on Sept. 30, on Sept. 25,” he told trustees Tuesday night. “You feel like you’re there but then something can change.”
Last year, the district saw an increase though it had projected a drop of about 27 students.
The significance of the end of September is that it is when the Ministry of Education looks at school districts’ enrolment numbers to determine operating grants for the year.
Cambridge reminded trustees that figures could change over the next few days, particularly at the secondary level, as schools are trying to finalize classroom numbers. For the higher grades, it becomes a matter of checking through every course and students and making sure they have enough credits.
“Right now, your staff’s working diligently to get those numbers for us,” he said.
Assuming there is little change over the course of the week, the projected increase is close to what school district had projected, which is used as a baseline for when planning.
“It looks like at the moment we’re almost dead on that number,” he said.
The numbers are not exactly showing up where district staff expected, he added, but overall the figure is close.
Trustee Daryl Hagen asked whether this might mean adding more portables, such as one added at Ocean Grove Elementary.
Secretary-treasurer Kevin Patrick responded there is a strong possibility the district might have to add one.
“We are doing a space assessment right now,” he said. “The change at Ocean Grove from last year to this year was significant…. It’s hard to tell right now if this was a one-year thing.”
Patrick said the influx was probably due to more students that had been expected to attend a school of choice deciding to stay in the neighbourhood school.
He added they hope to make a determination soon so the district can put in an order, with approval from the board, before Christmas. The district has also submitted an application to the Ministry of Education to replace the portables with a building addition in the future.
Hagen also asked about the implications of a residential subdivision on the south end of Dogwood Street. Patrick expects there will be a couple of phases of 30 lots each and added he is in regular contact with City planning staff. The district does have an estimate of potential student numbers and there should be space in existing schools to accommodate students.
“Again, it’s something we’ll have to monitor,” he said.
In response to a question from trustee Richard Franklin, Patrick said there is property identified for a school if the need arises based on future development, in other words, if the 300-400 houses proposed are built, though the subdivision being built currently itself is not enough to warrant a new school. He also said he believes the City will take it on as a park but if it is required for a school, they could set up a purchase agreement for the school district.
“It’s great that the City has taken on that arrangement, which both preserves a piece of land but also means it’s available for community use,” he said.