Stagnant enrollment projected at UCDSB for next three years

BROCKVILLE – Enrollment at the Upper Canada District School Board remains stagnant according to a budget information report presented at the March 7th trustee board meeting.

The report, presented by Robert Backstrom, superintendent of business, outlined the current budget year with projections for the following three school years.

In the report were revised numbers for the current school year. Currently there are 27,008 students attending UCDSB schools, down from a 27,107 in 2016-17. Elementary school enrollment increased by 162 students. However, there has been a 190 student decrease at the secondary level, and 76 fewer students attending the Adult, Continuing, and Summer school programs through T.R. Leger.

The board’s projections indicate minor fluctuations in enrollment for the next three years. In the 2018-19 school year, the report states there would 19 new students attending UCDSB schools, followed by a drop of 28 students in 2019-20, and an increase of 139 students in 2020-21.

In comparison, the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario announced a 1.5 per cent enrollment increase for the current school year.

The impact to overall funding at the UCDSB is negligible, however the board will see an overall reduction of funding due to other program funding changes.

Funding for the board will remain nearly the same for the 2018-19 school year, with the exception of a $1.3 million one-time professional development amount that ends at the close of the present school year. The board is projecting a $3.2 million dollar reduction in funding for 2019-20. This stems from reductions for special education funding, and phased reductions in system priorities funding.

A funding question mark for the budget was whether the Rural and Northern Education Fund would continue.

Introduced in June 2017 following the province’s school closure moratorium, the RNEF provides funds to enhance French-immersion, arts education and guidance counselling in rural and northern Ontario schools. An example of this program in the UCDSB is the addition of one new full-time guidance counsellor position at Seaway District High School. The RNEF program is funded only to the end of the 2018-19 school year. A budget deliberation report will be presented to the UCDSB board of trustees at their April 25th meeting, with a final budget vote expected at their June 6th meeting.