UGDSB cancels almost 100 secondary courses

MOUNT FOREST – The Upper Grand District School Board has cancelled almost 100 secondary school courses for the 2019-20 school year.

“As of September 2019, the provincial government is only providing class size funding for one teacher for every 28 students registered in our secondary schools,” said board spokesperson Megan Sicoli.

“Due to higher class size averages, we have had to cancel 98 courses across all our secondary schools for the 2019-20 school year.”

However, she said course cancellation at the secondary level is not new to the board.

“Single section courses, especially at the Grade 11 and 12 level, would be cancelled because not enough students have selected the course as an option,” Sicoli said.

“These students would then be counselled into other courses of their choice, taking into consideration their future destination, interests and pathway.”

Sicoli said she isn’t able to provide a breakdown of courses cancelled in each high school within the board.

However, one cancelled course that has been receiving a lot of attention is the music program at Wellington Heights Secondary School in Mount Forest.

“Interest in the music program has been dwindling over the last two years,” Sicoli said. “Also, at the end of this year, WHSS will be losing its only qualified music teacher as she retires.”

In the 2018-19 school year there were 19 Grade 9 students in music in the first semester and eight students in Grades 11 and 12 in the second semester.

For 2019-20, only 19 students in the entire school selected music as a course option, Sicoli said.

“The school principal looked at all possible scenarios and tried combining all four grades and was only able to find a time that worked for six students and did not conflict with compulsory credits,” Sicoli said.

To keep music in the school the principal, trustee, students and Specialist High Skills Major lead formed a music club to be run by guest coaches.

“The school is hopeful that this club will inspire future students to want to enrol in music again and in the future will see a return of music to the school as a credit course,” Sicoli told the Advertiser.