School board swap creates enrolment ripple
Little change in board populations despite school swap
By: Kevin Ma
| Posted: Wednesday, Oct 03, 2012 06:00 am
Last summer’s school shakeup in Morinville has made barely a ripple in where parents are sending their kids to school, according to the latest enrolment numbers.
This week St. Albert and Sturgeon County school boards were finalizing their official enrolment numbers, which are suggesting that a recent school system reorganization in Morinville didn’t impact student distribution as much as some anticipated.
The Greater St. Albert Catholic School division underwent the most change, as the province gave one of its schools (Georges P. Vanier Elementary) to the Sturgeon School Division and designated the Catholic division as a separate board in Morinville and St. Albert.
While division officials had expected to lose about 100 students because of these changes, the actual drop was just 65 students, said superintendent David Keohane. About two thirds of that drop was in Morinville.
“It’s a positive story for us in that in Morinville we only lost 40 students,” Keohane said.
The division’s population is holding at about 6,000.
“The overwhelming (majority) of parents have chosen to be a part of our school system,” he said.
The Sturgeon School Division saw a six per cent jump in its student population, with some 4,700 students now attending its schools, up from 4,433 last year, said superintendent Michèle Dick.
Much of this jump happened at Morinville Public Elementary, which went to 276 students from 92, she said.
“It really feels like a full school when you walk in that building,” she said.
She wasn’t sure if this influx had come from population growth or from people transferring from the Catholic division.
This fall about 152 students joined the St. Albert public school district, growing its population about two per cent to 6,630, said superintendent Barry Wowk.
This increase was spread amongst all grades, he said, but was most noticeable in kindergarten, which hit a record high of 486 students.
“It’s by far the most we’ve ever had in kindergarten.”
Class sizes in St. Albert’s public schools are getting stretched, forcing officials to bring in three portables to house students this year.
“We need that new school,” Wowk said.
While the Catholic board has kept its elementary school class sizes to about 20 children, it’s not exactly spoiled for space, Keohane said.
“The reality is that Notre Dame (Elementary), without additional classrooms, is full,” he said.
He plans to lobby the province for more portables this year as a result.
“Our schools are more utilized than they ever have been,” he said, noting that the board now has to put its pre-kindergarten kids in Morinville’s parish hall due to a lack of school space.
The Sturgeon board is doing reasonably well for space, although its Sturgeon Heights School in St. Albert and Landing Trail School in Gibbons are a little tight, Dick said.
Final enrolment numbers will be presented to school boards early this month.