SUDBURY—Student enrolment figures for this school year in the Rainbow District School Board (RDSB), is providing a good news story, says Norm Blaseg, the director of education for the board.
“It is good news,” stated Mr. Blaseg when contacted by the Recorder late last week. “The key pieces to focus on within the system is whether school enrolment figures are up from October 31 in comparison to October 31, 2017. We as a board are mandated to provide enrolment figures by the end of October and as of March 31 of each year. They become the basis for us getting grants.”
“The good news story is that system-wide (RDSB), our enrolment shows us having an increase of 180 plus students as of October 31 overall on the elementary and secondary school panels,” stated Mr. Blaseg. He explained on the elementary side, the board has seen an increase of 239 students, while in the secondary panel there has been a decrease of 55 students overall.
“These are actually good trends for us because previous to this year we had been seeing a much larger decrease in the elementary level but that decrease appears to have plateaued,” said Mr. Blaseg. “Hopefully, this is a good news trend, but only time will tell.”
“Overall we are quite pleased,” said Mr. Blaseg, “especially since (the student enrolment) also affects the staffing (numbers) for schools.”
Mr. Blaseg noted, “as the enrolment numbers pertain to the (Manitoulin) Island nothing comes to mind as being dramatic in terms of increasing or decreasing. We continue to see a dip in (student) numbers at Manitoulin Secondary School (MSS), which is a natural flow through from the elementary school student numbers level. No, it is not dramatic, but we are aware of this.”
“Assiginack Public School is in good shape with good growth-the school almost sits at 100 percent capacity,” continued Mr. Blaseg. “For each school we continue to see trends, and one we have seen an increase in is at Charles C. McLean Public School (Gore Bay) and hopefully we will see this trend continue.” He explained, “I told the board at our meeting (held on Tuesday of last week), you need to look at the number of Junior Kindergartens and how many Grade 8 students are leaving, we like to see these numbers match. That is one of the key indicators.”
Mr. Blaseg provided figures on each school: C.C. McLean has an enrolment of 144 as of October 31, seven students higher than had been predicted; Assiginack has an enrolment of 120 students, two students higher than had been estimated; Central Manitoulin has an enrolment of 194, which is a total of eight students higher than had been estimated; Little Current Public School has an enrolment of 328, nine more students than had been estimated. On the secondary panel, Manitoulin Secondary School has has an enrolment of 428.71 students at the end of October, 16 higher than had been predicted for enrolment.
Mr. Blaseg said the enrolment figures confirm the RDSB projections and makes it easier to staff schools than if there was a decrease in student numbers. He said as part of the student enrolment process, principals and superintendents, business department staff and others do a lot of work in estimating enrolment numbers for a school year.
“Once enrolment figures are confirmed they are relayed to the ministry (of education) and through this it confirms what our funding from the province will be,” said Mr. Blaseg. “We will get half of the funding, which is about $12,200 per student, then submit figures again by March 31. If the numbers remain positive, we receive the second half of the funding.” He noted that, on average, funding of $12,800 is provided to the board per secondary student and on average $12,200 per elementary student
“We’re in pretty good shape at this point,” stated Mr. Blaseg.