June 12, 2013                                                                                          

DSBN Continues Renewal Process

Trustees of the District School Board of Niagara are continuing their comprehensive, long-term look at how to best support student success through revitalizing the region’s public schools. Trustees took another step forward in this process by receiving the Facilities Planning Report at the June 11 board meeting and voting to initiate Accommodation Reviews in Niagara-on-the-Lake and west Fort Erie. The announced reviews are in addition to a previously approved review of elementary schools in St. Catharines.

“Declining enrolment is the most challenging issue facing school boards in Ontario today,” said Kevin Maves, Chair of the Board. “As student populations decline it becomes more and more difficult to offer educational programs that meet the needs of today’s youth. Our situation is further compounded by having a system with some of the oldest school buildings in Ontario.”

Recent trends show that enrolment continues to decline across the system. In the elementary panel, enrolment has fallen nearly 20% since 2003. In that same time frame, secondary enrolment has seen a reduction of more than 13%. In the 2013/14 school year, one-third of the DSBN’s 88 elementary schools will have fewer than 200 students enrolled. “As a result, it is essential that the Board examines creative solutions that will improve the educational experience for students and prepare them for success later in life,” added Maves.

“While we believe the DSBN offers students an outstanding public education, the fact remains that there are fewer school aged children living in Niagara now compared to ten years ago. We expect this trend to continue and therefore we must react in order to ensure that we can maintain and improve our educational programming and extracurricular offerings,” said Sue Barnett, Vice-Chair of the Board.

The Facilities Planning Report outlines a measured, strategic approach to investigate opportunities to improve the educational experience for students. Potential strategies to reduce surplus spaces and address old buildings may include consolidating some schools, renovating existing buildings and even building new schools.

Accommodation Reviews to Take Place in the 2013/14 School Year 

North St. Catharines – Meadowvale and Sheridan Park Public Schools

There are currently over 200 empty spaces between the two schools. By 2022, enrolment at the two schools is expected to be at 41% of their available capacity.

 

Niagara-on-the-Lake – Crossroads and Parliament Oak Public Schools

Enrolment projections show a steady decline in enrolment over the next number of years. Presently, Parliament Oak is at 42% of capacity. There are currently 278 empty spaces between the two schools.

 

West Fort Erie – Bertie, Crystal Beach and Ridgeway Public Schools

Projections show a continued decline in enrolment for this group of schools. By 2022, enrolment at the three schools will be at 45% of their available capacity.