The Superintendent of the Western School Division (WSD) anticipates enrolment in the division to soon get back to where it was pre-COVID.
Stephen Ross says they saw a lot of families move into the area this past spring, which he says was a bit of a backlog of people moving in through immigration.
They also saw people begin to return to WSD, who for a variety of different reasons chose not to attend school during the pandemic. Ross says they're expecting a student enrollment anywhere from the 2,050 to the 2,100 range when school opens in the fall. "We were at about 1,870 last September. Lots of bodies, and that's a good thing. We're anxiously awaiting the continuation of that new school development, and we need the space."
Ross says the design process for the new K-8 school is right on target, and if all goes to plan, the project could go to tender this fall.
By the end of this past school year, Ross noted they were shocked to see how many students were registered by the end of June, noting nearly 2,060 kids were enrolled in WSD schools. As the backlogs continue to move through, he said they may even reach an enrollment of 2,200 students in the next school year.
As far as kindergarten enrollment, Ross said there is a lot of room in the classes. The division is planning for about 8 kindergarten classes right now. "So there's room in those classes. They probably range around 17 or 18 kids and in most of those rooms, we're expecting more people to register here in September."
Ross noted, that in the past couple of years, a number of things have shifted making it more difficult for the board to make accurate predictions on enrollment. He says part of the situation is pandemic related. As far as predicting kindergarten enrolment, a number of years ago, he said they were able to get the birth numbers, by postal code from Manitoba Health.
"Our R6M postal code gave us very accurate numbers for kindergarten, and the last number of years, the province has not provided those numbers to us, so it's a bit more of a guess every year in where we're at, and we can't really predict when there's going to be a big bulge of kids."