Public board enrolment down from last year

Enrolment continues to drop locally, with the Rainy River District School Board reporting a decrease of 74 elementary students and 169 secondary ones this year over last.
On opening day of the 2004-05 year last Wednesday, the public board reported 1,701 elementary students and 1,330 secondary ones at its 14 schools from Atikokan to Rainy River.
Education Director Warren Hoshizaki noted this has been a trend across the district over the past several years.
The good news about this year’s numbers is that they are on target with the board’s projections for the 2004-05 year. On Sept. 1, there were nine more elementary students than projected, and 14 less secondary pupils, for a total of five less students overall.
“That’s very good from a budgeting standpoint,” Hoshizaki noted.
As well, despite the drop in enrolment over the last three years, the board has increased its teaching staff to meet the needs of students.
Also at last night’s meeting, the first regular one of the new school year, the board heard a report from Linda Wall, assistant superintendent of education, on the provincial literacy and numeracy training for teachers.
The Literacy and Numeracy Strategy Summer Program was provided as an initiative of the McGuinty government to expand the expertise of primary teachers from JK-Grade 3.
Here in Rainy River District, two days were spent on numeracy, taught by trainers Laurie Holliday, Kathy Smeeth, and Wilma Esselink, and two others on literacy, taught by trainers Maureen Ricard and Jan Perrott.
Wall said the province decided to offer this teacher training because “EQAO results in reading have flat-lined over the last several years.”
About 7,500 teachers across the province participated in the professional development, including 31 from this district.
Wall said the feedback from teachers was excellent. “Some said it was the best P.D. they’ve ever had,” she noted.
The province now is looking at expanding the program to include a junior initiative for teachers in Grades 4-6.
In Northwestern Ontario, the RRDSB is the lead board for the program. “That’s quite an accomplishment,” noted board chair Dan Belluz.
Meanwhile, the board also recognized the work of Sylvia Parker and the members of the Summer Institute committee for organizing this year’s sixth-annual institute for teachers.
The theme this year was “A Tapestry for Learning: Weaving Literacy with the Arts,” and included hands-on workshops with professionals in the fields of drama, music, and storytelling.
The Summer Institute is an initiative of the RRDSB. “We have offered some really top-quality professional development for our teachers,” noted Parker, who chairs the committee.
She did note there was a slight drop in attendance this year from previous ones, most likely due to the provincial summer program that took place during the same week.
Nevertheless, the institute was very successful.
“When they leave, the teachers are excited about getting back into the classroom,” Parker noted.

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