School enrolment up from last year across City

Enrolment in both the public and Catholic school divisions in Red Deer are up from last year and there are some optimistic goals in place for the future.

Bruce Buruma, director of community relations for Red Deer Public Schools said the numbers for this year are what they were projected to be based on the City’s growth.

“The neighbourhoods that are growing are attracting families with children that need to go to school,” said Buruma.

The Public enrolment right now is at 9,985 as compared to 9,900 last year.

Red Deer Catholic School Division enrolment was at 6,250 at the end of the last school year and was at 6,586 at the beginning of the current academic year.

Buruma said the City sees a pretty consistent split in the attendance for Public versus Catholic schooling.

“About two-thirds go to Public schools and one-third go to Catholic. As our community grows and has grown that blend stays pretty much the same.”

Buruma said the targets for class sizes in the public schools from grades K-3 are about 17 students.

“Class size is just that, it’s the average, some are smaller, some are larger.”

Buruma is optimistic about the upcoming year, and is also sure to point out that this past summer was the busiest one so far with 70 projects undertaken to maintain and upgrade schools in Red Deer. “We had $2.6 million in capital projects over the summer. Some areas we knew needed upgrades.”

In regards to the upcoming year Buruma said they are looking forward to beginning construction on the new school to open in 2014, as well as the possibility of a Spanish bilingual program at G.H. Dawe for Kindergarten and Grade one.

Buruma said the public division focuses on three things primarily: literacy, inclusion of all students and high school completion and transitions.

“We want to make sure that all the diverse students have a place and an inclusive environment and we are always concerned with making sure every student gets to the finish line.”

Buruma said growth will always be a concern for the schools in Red Deer and that the public division is happy to be ‘building for tomorrow’ with the new Timberlands school set to open in September of 2014.

“We’re happy to be adding another school. We have some schools that are pretty full but when that school comes on we will have an opportunity to review our attendance boundaries.”

Buruma said the focus would be to have the community engaged in the process of redefining the attendance boundaries based on needs.

The growing population in North Red Deer as well as the developments in the Timberlands area are reasons for the new school site, said Buruma.

“Down the road there will be a school there that will grow as the community grows. That was the best location to continue to build for tomorrow.”

Representatives from the Catholic School Division were available for comment at press time.