Enrolment in the Clearview Public Schools district is down slightly for the new school year, the board announced last week.
“Based on initial student counts, it looks like Clearview’s student enrolment is down approximately five per cent from last year,” said board chairman Ken Checkel.
“Final student counts for the year are based on Sept. 30 enrolments, so enrolment information will be confirmed (later) in October.”
Checkel said that while an enrolment decline is not good news, it’s a trend across Alberta school divisions in rural areas.
“Rural demographics have been declining in Alberta for decades and we continue to see this reality in our schools,” he said in a news release. “This declining enrolment will put added pressure on our division, as our funding from the province is directly linked to the number of students we have.”
“As our financial information from last year and our budget information for this school year are finalized, trustees will have a clearer picture of the decisions we face. We know we have highly professional and committed staff across Clearview and we have no doubt they will find ways to deal with the challenges that may present themselves in the future.”
Meanwhile, the Clearview board reported progress on a couple of construction projects in Stettler — the parking lot at William E. Hay Composite High School and the “exterior structure” of the nearby football fieldhouse.
“We are very pleased to see these construction projects underway (or) completed,” said superintendent John Bailey. “The parking lot at William E. Hay was not part of the approved modernization plan, but as the project wound down, we knew there would be funds remaining. We made a request to Alberta Education to use some of those remaining funds to pave the parking lot at William E. Hay, and our request was granted.”
“Due to weather and construction challenges, the actual work happened later than we had planned, but the great news is it got done. I think everyone who uses it is enjoying the new parking lot.”
“The football fieldhouse has been another long-running project, and is being constructed in a co-operative effort between Stettler Minor Football, Wildcats football and Clearview. Once again, we are very pleased to see the progress with this facility, as the outer structure has been completed. Interior work will be underway shortly, and once done, this facility will enhance the school and community”.
Overhaul for student transportation
In August, Education Minister David Hancock announced the reinstatement of the fuel-price contingency for school divisions across the province. Clearview hopes the latest changes will alleviate some of the transportation headaches in the district.
“Funding was removed by the province as of the 2009-2010 school year and translated to a loss of approximately $198,000 in revenue for Clearview Public Schools,” Checkel said. “The government’s announcement to reinstate this funding will greatly assist Clearview in operating our transportation system.”
For this school year, Clearview had reduced its bus routes and made changes to existing routes, and both the staff and trustees say they’re doing their best to offer the best possible service under those constraints.
“In June, the Clearview board had to make some tough decisions regarding our transportation system, as it had become unsustainable,” Checkel said. “We could no longer operate the number of bus routes we had with the funding we get from the province. We are pleased that the Alberta government has now reinstated the fuel-price contingency funding. This will certainly help to cover the significant deficit from the last school year and increased costs expected this year.”
“Changes to bus routes that have a negative impact on students are of concern to everyone in Clearview. Over time, some bus routes had seen real decreases in the number of riders, and some changes were needed to keep our system sustainable.”
“Our staff continues to work diligently to make these changes as minimal as possible. As trustees, we would like to thank those families who have shared ideas and concerns with us. We believe that we can best serve our students by working together, and using good ideas from everyone.”
The next meeting of the Clearview board is set for 9 a.m. Tuesday at the board office in Stettler. Such regular meetings are open to the public.