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Friday, 20 October 2017 09:25

Chinook School Division records lower student enrolment

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There are 30 fewer students enrolled in Chinook School Division for the 2017-18 school year.


Acting Director of Education Kyle McIntyre announced the official enrolment figures for the new school year at a regular meeting of the Chinook School Division's board of education, Oct. 10.
These figures reflect the number of students on Sept. 30. There are 5,969 students in the school division, of which 5,352 are in public schools, 493 are Hutterite colony students, and 124 are home schoolers.
“I think when we first became Chinook 12 years ago we were predicting some enrolment decreases over time,” he said. “I don’t think we hit the targets that we had anticipated, so really 30 is a number to be surprised about, but given what's occurring in the rest of the province, it's not super concerning.”
In comparison to last year, there are six fewer students in public schools, the number of colony students is down 16, and there are eight fewer home schooling students.
Some public schools have experienced an increase in students while others have seen a decrease. This year's most significant increase in student numbers at public schools occurred at École Centennial School in Swift Current, with 23 more students. There are 20 more students at Wymark School and an increase of 14 students at Ponteix School.
The most significant decreases in student enrolment occurred at Gull Lake School (19), Swift Current's Fairview School (18), Maple Creek Composite School (16), Herbert School (14) and Frontier School (12).
“At every one of our city schools the enrollment has gone up with the exception of Fairview,” he said. “We think they have relocated to other parts in the community, because Centennial is up 23, O.M. Irwin is up, Central is up about six.”
According to McIntyre the enrolment at Swift Current Comprehensive High School is more or less the same.
“It’s down from our first day at school, but we typically see ebbs and flows at the Comp associated with hockey for both the Wildcats and the Legionnaires and the Broncos,” he said. “So we’re usually about 20 or 25 higher on opening day and then we get down to about 950. Last year we were 954. This year I think we’re 948 at the Comp.”
The lower enrolment will have an impact on the school division's funding allocation from the Ministry of Education, because the final enrolment is below the number used for budget purposes.
“Most of our funding is around the number of schools that we have,” he explained. “There’s about seven or eight factors when it comes to funding, but probably the most important one for us is that if you have a school you get a certain amount of funding for that school, regardless of what the enrollment would be. There is another scale. It’s a sliding scale that gives you an allocation of staff based on the number of students that you have. So I would like to say that the effect of losing 30 is negligible, but it really isn't. We're going to lose a little bit of funding.”
This year's slightly lower enrolment will not have any impact on staff numbers at schools and there will be no staffing adjustment.
“We do have policy 205 that says annually at this time a board of education may choose to review a school,” he mentioned. “We have no plans on reviewing any schools or closing any schools. We need every single school that we have. Our population is very sparse, we're very disperse, we need schools in every community where we presently have schools. So I'm happy to say we won't be evaluating or reviewing any schools, but at some point down the road we may have to look at our staffing levels if we continue to be hit in terms of our budget.”

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Matthew Liebenberg

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