Wednesday, September 16, 2009

We're up and reviewing

Two from the Sault Star today on the Algoma District School Board's first meeting of the year, where trustees both struck a new review committee and reviewed preliminary enrolment counts for the 2009-10 school year.
From the review article:
"It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone involved," said Mario Turco, director of education, at the conclusion of the meeting.
"We have been in informal discussions with the school communities about this possibility for about a year now and (Tuesday) we approved going from an informal process to a formal process with meetings, reports and an eventual recommendation."
All schools being analyzed are victims of declining enrollment (sic), he said, and declining enrollment results in fewer programming options.
Manitou Park will be reviewed toward possible closure, and its students accommodated in nearby existing schools for September, 2010.
Schools in Iron Bridge and Spanish will be reviewed for possible closure or a possible change in accommodation status, such as becoming JK through Grade 3 or JK through Grade 6, and its Grade 7 and Grade 8 populations having the option of attending a nearby high school for September, 2010.
Should Iron Bridge be closed, states a report to trustees, parents would have the option of registering their children in Thessalon or Blind River and if Spanish closes, the option could be Blind River or Elliot Lake.
This first review article could be a key one for the Star. Given the geography involved, I would be highly surprised if the paper is able to follow this review committee through its various meetings, likely only returning to cover its final meeting, recommendation and trustee-level presentations and vote. However, spelling out the initial recommendations is important-- particularly under the spirit of guidelines that ask boards to come to the table with everything on the table.
Running this article at the same time as another discussing an increase in enrolment from initial projections could cause confusion and lead to those who've misunderstood the overall picture quoting from this to ask why reviews are needed in the first place. Key part--
(Superintendent Azima) Vezina attributed the surge to the 1,219-student kindergarten population which was an increase of 169 students over projections, including 150 additional JK students and 19 additional SK.
Eight half-day JK classes have been added.
"We continue to experience declining enrollment but at least now it is a slower rate than in recent years," said Mario Turco, director of education, at the conclusion of the meeting. 
What's missing from the piece is what the overall decline is. The projected enrolment was lower than actual, but how many fewer students does the board actually have in this preliminary count versus the 2008-09 school year? That information is needed to put this increase above projected enrolment into the proper context. The ADSB is still a declining enrolment board.