KENILWORTH – Student enrolment at Arthur Public School is projected to increase by 44 per cent and push the school over its capacity by 2030, according to a school board accommodation plan.
There are 372 students currently enrolled at Arthur Public School, occupying 83 per cent of the school’s total 446-student capacity.
But according to a recent Upper Grand District School Board (UGDSB) draft report presented to Wellington North council, enrolment is projected to increase due to housing development not only at Arthur Public School, but Victoria Cross Public School in Mount Forest as well.
Victoria Cross is already 10.5% over its 409-student capacity, with 452 students currently enrolled. By 2030, enrolment there is projected to increase to 540, putting the school 32% over capacity.
Kenilworth Public School, the last of three total elementary schools in Wellington North, has a current enrolment of 81 students, or 68.6% of the schools total 118-student capacity.
Contrary to the trend, projected enrolment there will increase to 90 students in 2025 before decreasing to 80 students in 2030.
Considered as a whole, the three elementary schools are at 93% of a total 973 student capacity, with 905 currently enrolled students.
According to the UGDSB report, presented by board planning manager Ruchika Angrish, the schools are considered to be well-utilized.
“Total enrolment in Wellington North is projected to increase beyond total school capacity, which indicates there may be the need for additional capacity in this review area in the future,” the report states.
In the meantime “enrolment pressure will be accommodated with portables,” the report notes.
There are currently three portables in use — two at Victoria Cross and one in Kenilworth — but portable capacities aren’t factored in to a school’s capacity when the board calculates utilization of its schools.
Some councillors voiced concern about how unpredictable provincial growth policy changes may affect student enrolment projections and practicalities such as transportation.
Policy changes at the provincial level, with the allowance of additional residential units, Angrish told council, has already affected schools.
“We only get the numbers after the student shows up at our school,” she said.
“That’s the reality that we are facing right now, unfortunately.”
Angrish told council there needs to be more collaboration between municipal and board planning staff to “figure this out.”
Portables are the go-to response to limited capacity, Angrish said, and then the board can look into permanent solutions based on population projections, including pitching the province on the need for another school.
Students from the three Wellington North elementary schools graduate into Wellington Heights Secondary School, with Grades 9 to 12.
There are 411 high school students currently enrolled in the current year, and with the school’s 651 student capacity, 36% of the school’s capacity remains available. A single portable is in use.
In fact, the school has had excess capacity for the past two years, according to the UGDSB plan. The board considers the school underutilized but that’s projected to change come 2030 with 515 enrolled students pushing its capacity into well-utilized territory at 79% of its total capacity, according to the plan.
“Although enrolment growth is anticipated at Wellington Heights Secondary School due to new housing development in the area, it is projected to continue to have surplus space,” the plan states.
It notes that enrolment is expected to increase in the next eight years, correlating with new development in the area.
The draft UGDSB plan, which assists the board in multi-year planning, was approved by board trustees on May 9.
From now until September, the plan is being circulated for public and stakeholder engagement.
A final report is expected to go before trustees for approval in October.