By Norm Park, Contracted Reporter for SECPSD
Three schools in the South East Cornerstone Public School Division failed to meet the provincially established standards for enrolment when all 38 public school facilities opened on Sept. 8 this year.
But under extenuating circumstances that included the pandemic outbreak last spring, Cornerstone board members this year voted unanimously to forego any challenges or action plans that would place these schools and their surrounding community under any additional pressures.
Director of Education, Lynn Little, informed the board during their October 14 meeting in Weyburn the schools in Pangman, Macoun and Manor failed to reach the minimum enrolment level outlined by the Ministry of Education as being a bases for possibly notifying the schools and their communities that they were under scrutiny. That would mean they would need to make a case to remain open and operating as a viable educational facility in the next school year.
The threshold enrolment expectation for Pangman School (shown above), a Kindergarten to Grade 12 facility, is 88 according to the provincial edict. It has registered enrolments under that threshold since 2005. With a current enrolment of 62, it continues to operate as a vital link in a busy community that uses its resources for more than just weekly educational purposes. That factor had been pointed out to previous boards when community leaders came to plead their case for the continued operation in the past.
Little said the five-year projections of enrolments between 59 and 63 indicated some stability at that level.
Manor, which also has a Kindergarten to Grade 12 program, registered 59 students in September of this year. It first fell into the province’s non-viable checklist in 2015, falling just a few students shy of the provincially established 88-student enrolment figure.
The five-year enrolment projection of between 60 and 64, again pointed to some stability, at the current pace, the administrative chart suggested.
Macoun School, a Kindergarten to Grade 8 facility, has bounced from viable to non-viable on the enrolment charts since 2007, the report showed. While it met the minimum threshold number of 51 set by the ministry the previous school year, with a school population of 54, it fell under that mark in September of this year, with a total enrolment of 47.
Little noted, however, that projections for Macoun were favourable with expected enrolments for the next five years topping the threshold requirement by at least two to four students.
Based on the information provided to them, and recognizing the stress and anxiety factors existing in all communities this fall and winter, the Cornerstone board vetoed the idea of putting any school under notice for being a non-viable entity.
In accepting the motion and unanimous vote by the board, Chairwoman Audrey Trombley noted that in some instances, students who would have physically enrolled in any one of these three schools may very well have opted to engage in home schooling or registered with the online Cyber Stone Virtual School, also offered by the school division, so the lower numbers within the physical facility this year may have been skewed in a negative direction this year for the obvious reason of families and students making choices based on the continuing pandemic situation.