SRCE schools have 148 fewer students this year

PORT HAWKESBURY: The Strait regional centre for education (SRCE) has released its enrollment numbers for the 2019-2020 school year.

This year student enrollment in the SRCE is 5,952, which is a drop from 6,100 students in the 2018-2019 school year.

Since the provincial budget for education increased by $44 million last year – which represents a 30 per cent spending hike – the SRCE’s budget for this school year increased by $4,065,452, or 4.4 per cent.

JoAnn Alberstat, communications officer with the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, explained there is more money and more positions in every region, including the Conseil scolaire acadien provincial (CSAP) and the SRCE, despite declining enrollments in some regions.

“We have moved from funding allocated based primarily on enrolment to an approach that recognizes different students may need different supports in different ways,” he told The Reporter.

Although this is the sixth year in a row that the overall education budget has increased, Alberstat cautioned that next year’s budget is still to be determined.

As a result of new money, class sizes have been maintained this year in the SRCE, with current class caps remaining for Grades 9-12.

In his report, regional executive director of education Paul Landry said it’s important to “keep class sizes small and teacher-to-student ratios high.”

“These are the best we have seen in decades, especially for specialist positions such as guidance, resources, speech language pathologists and school psychologists,” Landry wrote.

The SRCE added 13.5 positions, including: two full-time teaching assistants; three child and youth care practitioners; one Mi’kmaq student support worker; one pre-Primary inclusion coach; two guidance counsellors; one Autism teacher specialist; one resource teacher; one community outreach worker; one school psychology/speech language pathologist; and one student health partnership nurse.

As well, a new student equity consultant is in place this school year, working within the programs and student services department.

The Reading Recovery program is now available to Grade 1 students in the English program.

After establishing Skilled Trades Centres at Richmond Academy, Dalbrae Academy, Dr. J.H. Gillis High School, Canso Academy, and Guysborough Academy, due to “significant interest,” the SRCE is now offering the course at Inverness Academy, SAERC and St. Mary’s Academy this year.