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Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Enrolment Is Up In Bluewater School Board

Grey Bruce | by Claire McCormack  

Board says Port Elgin and Dundalk have growing enrolment, Owen Sound's is declining.

The Bluewater District School Board has its projected enrolment numbers for this school year.

Overall, Director of Education Alana Murray says enrolment is up, mainly at the elementary level.   

Last year's actual enrolment number was 16,300 across the school board which covers all of the public elementary and secondary schools in Grey and Bruce Counties.

This year, the board is projecting enrolment between 16,500 to 17,000. Murray says real numbers will come in after the school year gets started.  

She says enrolment is going up in Port Elgin and Dundalk. "We need the spaces for Kindergarten through Grade 6 and that's why the Grades 7s and 8s moved out into the secondary school because we don't have sufficient elementary spaces for all of them."

Murray says "In all likelihood, we'll be building business cases for expanding the number of elementary student spaces in those communities."  

Not all communities are seeing an increase in enrolment, says Murray who notes, it's going down in Owen Sound, mainly in high school.

"I think there's huge potential for the city of Owen Sound to promote their area," says Murray adding, " We have a partnership with the County of Grey and Georgian College." She points to the planned skills training centre in the former Sydenham School.

She notes if there was significant growth in the future, existing Owen Sound schools, Hillcrest and Owen Sound District Secondary School (OSDSS) would need  some renovation. "I think the east side is growing, it's the west side that's not growing as quickly," says Murray.

She notes, Grey Highlands, Hanover and Walkerton have been particularly 'proactive' in providing infrastructure for growth and doing work to attract younger families to their communities. She says things like diverse housing options are some of the attractions municipalities are working towards.

Meanwhile, Murray says the board has a partnership meeting every year with municipalities and other partners "I'm just so impressed with what the municipalities are doing to promote their communities and to address housing issues and infrastructure issues. It's a win-win for everybody when we all work together to attract families to our area and to have our own graduates come back to the area."

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