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LCSD sees decrease in official enrolment numbers

The number of students attending Lakeland Catholic School Division schools saw a decrease this year due to a number of reasons
The official enrolment numbers for Lakeland Catholic School Division saw a decrease compared to last year's count. File photo

LAKELAND – There are a number of factors for why Lakeland Catholic School Division (LCSD) has seen a drop in its official enrolment numbers.

According to superintendent Joe Arruda, the Sept. 30 count of 2,451 kindergarten to Grade 12 students represents a loss of 126 students.

“In addition to the 2,451 kindergarten through Grade 12 students, we also have eight Program Unit Funding (PUF) students for a total of 2,459 students,” he added.

These numbers include 191 students who opted for online learning through LCSD. They’re counted in the schools that they normally would belong to, Arruda explained.

According to Arruda, there are five reasons why LCSD’s numbers saw a drop this year.

The first, their kindergarten enrolments dropped by 35 students this year due to the change of attendance eligibility, which moved from March 1 to Dec. 31.

“The 17 per cent reduction in kindergarten students matches exactly with the 17 per cent reduction in eligible students,” detailed Arruda. “We had 17 per cent less eligible to enter kindergarten and that’s what we actually lost is 17 per cent of students.”

Arruda was confident the nnumbers would increase in the next couple of years.

“There will be, for Sept. 2021, we should see a proportional increase in kindergarten students,” he said. “Next year, I believe, there will be a 17 per cent increase in our students or more because the students that would normally be in our schools aren’t now. Then the following year, 2022, we should be stabilized.”

There were 65 students lost to parents who decided to home school, but Arruda described this as a "temporary loss."

“Parents of those 65 students have indicated they will enroll their children with us once the pandemic is over.”

There were 36 students who moved out of the province and only 21 that moved in from other provinces, which accounts for a net loss of 15 pupils. Typically, LCSD sees this number balance out but that wasn’t the case this school year.

The number of indigenous students in the local division also saw a dip of five when compared to last school year.

Families moving outside of the Lakeland to another district in the province also impacted LCSD’s enrolment numbers. There were 75 students who moved away and only 33 students that moved to the area, which accounts for 37 fewer students than last school year. Arruda stressed that these numbers weren’t those who simply switched to another division close by, but those who moved to other parts of the province, such as Calgary and Edmonton.

Overall, five schools saw their enrolment numbers drop, including Notre Dame Elementary, Dr. Bernard Brosseau School, Assumption Jr./Sr. High School, Holy Cross Elementary, and Holy Family Catholic School.

Notre Dame High school, St. Dominic, and Light of Christ all saw their numbers increase compared to last year’s count.

Although the division saw a decrease, trustee Vicky Lefebvre was glad about what she saw.

“I think we’ve done well holding our own, so I’m pretty proud of our district. I think that speaks volumes to our teachers, staff, and everything else that a lot of people stayed with us,” she expressed.

Robynne Henry, Bonnyville Nouvelle

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