ALMAGUIN – The Near North District School Board budget is dropping, and so is student enrolment.
The Board approved an operating budget for the 2012-2013 year in the amount of about $134.7 million. The budget for 2011-2012 was approximately $136.5 million – a $1.8 million drop.
“It’s declining enrolment,” explained Near North District School Board trustee Al Bottomley, who represents the Almaguin region on the board. “There were some safeguards in place to cover some of that, but those government sources have since eroded, so now we’re really feeling the effects of too many schools and not enough bodies.”
Bottomley said closing some schools is definitely something that will be looked into.
“Putting the students in a centralized location, we can pool resources and create a better quality environment,” said Bottomley. “But of course, none of that is as easy as it sounds.”
According to the board’s information officer, Carrie Girard, the board doesn’t have exact enrolment numbers for the upcoming year yet.
“Many parents are still registering students during this week and well into early September. As a result, our board enrolment count for 2012-2013 will take place on October 31, 2012 to capture an accurate number,” she said.
Girard said the last enrolment count took place on March 31.
Based on that report, Almaguin Highlands Secondary School (AHSS) had 597 students last year and, in total, elementary schools in the region had 1,544 full-time students.
The year prior, AHSS had 614 students and elementary schools had 1,545 full-time students.
In Almaguin, the largest groups identified in the March 2012 enrolment count in both levels of school were those of the graduating class. At that time, Grade 8 classes in the region held 185 students, who are now high school bound. And at the high school level, Grade 12 had the largest group with 189 students, now college bound for the coming school year.
The board is continuing to invest in full-day kindergarten.
As of March 31, within the Almaguin region there were 153 senior kindergarten students in class full-time, and 183 in junior kindergarten.
There are eight schools within the board that will implement a full-day kindergarten class this year, four of those being located within the Almaguin region.
South River Public School, Sundridge Centennial Public School, M.A. Wittick Junior Public School in Burk’s Falls, and Mapleridge Public School in Powassan.
For each new full-day kindergarten classroom, the school receives $10,000 in one-time funding in order to address the capital needs of the program.
South River is also receiving $255,374 in order to retrofit its kindergarten classroom and Mapleridge is receiving $510,749 to retrofit two classrooms.