UCDSB enrolment exceeds pre-pandemic levels

BROCKVILLE – More students are attending Upper Canada District School Board schools than before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Trustees heard a formal update on enrolment at their November 30 meeting.

Superintendent Bill Loshaw presented the enrolment update at the board, which is one of two semi-annual reporting completed by school boards to the Ministry of Education.

The enrolment “snapshot” is used to calculate a majority of the per-student funding school boards receive, and staffing levels in schools.

The UCDSB saw a 3.2 per cent increase (577 students) from the end of October 2021 to October 2022, and a 4.5 per cent (812 students) increase in the elementary panel (Kindergarten to Grade 8) from October 2019.

Secondary panel (Grades 9-12) saw a 1.7 per cent (137 students) year-over-year increase and 4.7 per cent increase (379 students) since 2019.

Overall enrolment increased by 2.7 per cent (714 students) in the past year, and 4.6 per cent (1,191 students) since 2019. These numbers do not include enrolment at TR Leger School of Adult, Alternative, and Continuing Education.

“Two geographical areas stand out as having significant increases in the percentage of student enrolment,” Loshaw told the board. “Specifically the Russell and Perth feeder groups.” Russell, east of Ottawa, showed a 9.3 per cent (109 students) increase in enrolment, while the Perth feeder school group increased by 7.8 per cent (134 students).

Statistics from the UCDSB show that the bulk of school groups (elementary and secondary) saw enrolment increases.

The exception to the enrolment increases are three groups that lost students during the reporting period including from the Seaway group of schools. That family includes Seaway District High School, Morrisburg Public School, and Iroquois Public School.

Enrolment for that group is down 3.6 per cent. Enrolment at IPS has decreased from its peak in 2019, as has the Grade 7-8 Intermediate panel at Seaway. Enrolment at MPS and in Seaway’s Grade 9-12 panel remains at 2021 levels, which increased from 2019. Loshaw said the overall Seaway group decrease was 30 students.

Student enrolment is also down in the Tagwi (2.9 per cent) and the Brockville (1.8 per cent) school groups.

“Within each feeder group there are examples where all schools have shown growth but also examples where there is growth in one or more schools but also a decline in one or more schools,” Loshaw explained.

Migration from the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario accounts for nearly 25 per cent of the new students to the UCDSB. Elementary students account for 25.2 per cent, secondary students 23 per cent.

Families moving to the region accounted for over one-quarter of all new students (38.8 per cent elementary, 29 per cent secondary).

The largest increase at the secondary level (41 per cent) are new international exchange students, an area that suffered from extremely low enrolment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The board also reported an increase in senior kindergarten enrolment as first time students, accounting for parents who opted out of junior kindergarten last school year.

Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Morrisburg Leader