The number of students attending schools in the Livingstone Range School Division has been decreasing for years, and the board of trustees has made addressing this declining enrollment a priority.
At its December meeting, the board was advised data has been gathered over the past six weeks on six questions related to declining enrollment.
Data was gathered from three sources: trustees; management council, which is various central office leaders; and school administrators.
The six questions were: key trends; greatest fears; what needs more data; how to sustain enrollment; what is stopping enrollment from increasing; and what strategies can address declining enrollment.
The top three responses for each group were:
For trustees they are: continuous enrollment decline; the need to draw more families to the communities; and rural school boards need to work together to address declining enrollment.
For management they are: programming is in jeopardy; declining enrollment; and low utilization rates of buildings.
For administrators they are: ensuring quality education programs; two schools have reached crisis proportions; and facilities are not fully occupied nor will they be in the near future.
For trustees it is the quality of education; dollars are tied to “bums in seats”; and loss of programming options.
For management they are: limited programming; not meeting student programming needs; and student achievement is compromised.
For administrators they are: programming will suffer; innovative ways of offering classes is becoming extremely difficult; and adequate staffing with appropriate expertise.
For trustees they are: potential resident students; reasons for resident students leaving Livingstone Range; and what programming capacity is there in schools and communities.
For management they are: the need to know what key stakeholders think; number of students leaving the jurisdiction by choice; and what are other jurisdiction responses.
For administrators they are: understanding other alternative delivery methods; effectiveness of current alternative delivery methods; and cost analysis of closing buildings or restructuring grades within buildings.
For trustees they are: flexibility and innovation in programming that ensures access to teachers, resources, and technology; personalized learning; and Career and Technology Studies (CTS) education.
For management they are: co-operation among high schools; quality CTS programming; and site-based decision making.
For administrators they are: flexibility with delivery modes, times, and methods; site-based decision making; and learning support services.
For trustees they are: teaching in rigid patterns that inhibit innovation; letting time be the constant; and banning personal devices.
For management they are: holding onto traditional ways of delivering education; complaining about the current reality; exclusive site-based decision making.
For administrators they are: focusing solely on a traditional student-teacher classroom model; overloading staff; taking on new initiatives which have not been litmus tested or consulted.
For trustees they are: personalized learning; wrap-around services; and expanded outreach schooling model.
For management they are: using technology to better support learning; consolidate schooling in some communities; and school culture.
For school administrators: more flexible delivery options; response to intervention models in all schools; and continue to advocate for rural education.
This input will be used to assist trustees and the division in planning.
The next step will be conversations with the communities about declining enrollment that include students.