PORT HAWKESBURY: Families within the Strait regional school board (SRSB) who wish to register their children for Grade Primary next year will have an opportunity to do so this month.

Grade Primary registration in both English and French Immersion for the 2018–2019 school year will take place from January 22-26.

“It’s always an exciting time of year to really get our first glimpse of the number of children coming into primary next year,” said SRSB superintendent Ford Rice after the board’s regular meeting on January 3.

“When we look at the anticipated enrolment for next year, it gives us a better idea of where we’re going to be, and that drives our process, really, for staffing and everything else from here on out.”

Rice said it is too soon to tell what next year’s student numbers will bring. However, he pointed out that enrolment data from recent years suggests the steep decline in student numbers the board has experienced over the past two decades appears to be slowing down. Between 2015–2016 and 2016–2017, student enrolment dropped by 37 students. This year’s enrolment decreased by 46 students.

“Back a number of years ago, our drop in enrolment was up to in some cases, 300 students a year…” said Rice. “So the numbers are starting to level off.”

Rice said the board will have a better idea whether this current trend will continue once registration for next year is complete.

Some of next year’s Grade Primary students will come from the new pre-primary programs that were put in place throughout the province in September. Rice said there are currently approximately 117 students enrolled in the board’s eight pre-primary program locations.

“There were other sites around the school board yet that don’t have pre-primary, so we’re hoping with the continued expansion of pre-primary by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development that we’ll be able to expand our number of pre-primary sites next year as well,” said Rice.

Parents and guardians can register their children at their local school, or they can begin the registration process by telephone. In order to attend Grade Primary for the 2018-2019 school year, students must be five years of age on or before December 31, 2018. The French Immersion program is available to all students within the SRSB and registration will take place at the five schools that offer the program.

Additional information can be found on the board’s Web site or by contacting the local school.