Drop in enrolment could have effect on NESD finances

EAST CENTRAL — Enrolment for the North East School Division (NESD) has dropped by 59 students, which could reduce funding from the province by around $130,000.

On Sept. 30, 2018, the NESD had 4,943 students from pre-kindergarten to Grade 12. This year that number dropped to 4,884.

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“Our projected enrolments are generally down a little bit, year over year,” said Don Rempel, director of education for the NESD. “This year our projected enrolment was to have fewer students but our actual enrolment in September saw even fewer students.”

Rempel said the fiscal impact of having fewer students can be handled as long as the projections are accurate and they assign staff accordingly.

“It’s when we don’t project accurately and our students are down rather than up that it has funding implications,” he said.

“We always expect a little bit of a decrease unfortunately, in the north east. That’s been our trend. We’ve had a couple schools where the number of students that were leaving and the number of students coming in ended up with a negative balance.”

One school which the number of students enrolled went down was Melfort’s Maude Burke Elementary, which dropped from 222 to 199.

“Maude Burke was a surprise to us because it has had healthy enrolments and a healthy amount of new families moving to the area, always – even if some families leave,” Rempel said.

The school with the largest increase was Melfort and Unit Comprehensive Collegiate, which had a 25 student increase, followed by Nipawin’s Wagner Elementary with a 24 student increase.

For the 2019-20 year, the NESD budget has a deficit of about $4.3 million which was taken from reserves. In the 2018-19 year the division lost over $2 million from reserves.

Wanda McLeod, the division's superintendent of business administration, called the budget “unsustainable” when it was released last June.

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