Enrollment at Haliburton High School set to plummet next year

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Enrollment in the Trillium Lakelands District School Board (TLDSB) is expected to decline for the 2022/23 school year.

In a May 24 report, Superintendent Tim Ellis said the board expected 11,203 elementary students — a slight increase from this year — and 4,773 high school students in September. According to Department of Education statistics, the board had 10,849 elementary students this school year and 5,645 secondary students.

He said this year’s totals were higher than the board had expected, attributing that to people moving from the GTA due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Now we’re seeing a trend of people who used to live in Toronto being called back to the city for work…Because of that, our estimated enrollment for this year is going to be lower,” Ellis said.

He noted that these were only projections and that the final September totals could be higher. However, he indicated that it was better for the board to make low projections so as not to get caught up in the budget estimates.

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Diving into the numbers, Ellis calculated that the TLDSB would receive approximately $218 million in revenue next year. From there, he plans $94.2 million for the student foundation, which covers the costs of classrooms and teachers; $14.1 million for the Schools Foundation, which covers the salaries of principals, vice-principals, and secretaries; $19.6 million in qualifications and experience funding, which Ellis says can vary depending on how many teachers retire; $27.6 million in funding for special education; $16.1 million for transportation; and $20.5 million for school operating costs.

Administrator John Byrne asked if the projected costs for transportation represented the recent increase in fuel costs. Ellis said the department uses a fuel escalator and de-escalator algorithm to determine how much money a school board receives to offset the cost of fuel. He noted that the amount can change from month to month, but the tip is usually covered.

Ellis said he would file a full budget for the administrator’s review in June.

The BIRT program makes a difference for students

One of the successes of the current school year, according to Superintendent Jennifer Johnston, has been the success of the school board’s Behavioral Intervention Resource Team (BIRT).

The TLDSB employs three teachers and seven teacher assistants to administer the program, which provides classroom support for youth with behavioral challenges.

“These educators are advocates for equity and inclusion…They are able to understand underlying behavioral issues and put in place strategies to correct them,” Johnston said.

In the 2021/22 school year, there were 157 board-wide BIRT dismissals. According to Johnston, the average duration of BIRT’s involvement with a student was 32 days.

In most cases, a single stint alongside BIRT educators resulted in positive student behavior.

“We are very proud of the work our BIRT team has been able to accomplish this year, said Johnston.

measuring success

Director of Education Wes Hahn said he will use two key metrics to measure the council’s success over the next 12 months.

“One of the things we talked about as a team is professional learning… The pandemic had a big impact and we weren’t able to get a lot of the training that we would have liked, but we’re starting to and catch up. now,” Hahn said. “It is important that we give our staff the opportunity to develop. I’ve always said you can’t ask people to do things they aren’t trained or supported to do.

“So inclusion equity is huge too. We want our students to feel like they belong. This includes students with special educational needs, LGBTQ needs. We have a lot of work to do to continue on this path so that they feel connected, reach their potential and succeed,” he added.

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