Declining Enrolment Working Group

Overview of the Declining Enrolment Working Group

Most provinces in Canada are affected by the decline in the number of school-aged children. Many Ontario school boards have also experienced changing demographics:

  • Enrolment in Ontario schools declined by 90,000 students between 2002-03 and 2008-09.
  • Between 2008-09 and 2012-13, enrolment is projected to decline by 56,000 students.
  • In 2008-09, 57 out of 72 Ontario school boards have smaller student populations than in 2002-03.
  • The funding formula has already been reformed to introduce a variety of specific measures that help boards adjust to declining enrolment.

On May 30, the province established a Declining Enrolment Working Group, led by co-chairs Brant MPP Dave Levac and Eleanor Newman, former Director of Education at Renfrew County District School Board.

The group was asked to provide advice and recommendations on ways to help school boards better respond to declining enrolment. These include strategies and best practices that will help boards and schools deliver effective education programs and continue improving student achievement while adjusting to lower enrolment.

Their recommendations would build on measures introduced by the government over the past five years to help boards adjust to declining enrolment while continuing to provide high quality education for students.

As part of their work to fully understand the challenges associated with declining enrolment and to develop informed, practical recommendations, the group:

  • consulted with key partners in the province's education community through written submissions and roundtable discussions
  • received ongoing advice from a Trustee Advisory Group made up of representatives of the four Ontario school board associations
  • gathered input from the public through a Declining Enrolment Working Group consultation webpage.

Their report titled: Planning and Possibilities recommends ways that Ontario can continue to improve student achievement while addressing the impacts of declining enrolment. There are twenty-one recommendations covering four broad areas:

  1. Boards should adjust costs and operations through multi-year planning, so that they will be able to fully focus efforts and resources on supporting more student achievement in the future.
  2. There should be greater community discussion and more partnerships between boards, schools and community organizations so local resources and leadership are fully utilized.
  3. The ministry should continue to promote online and alternative learning opportunities and advocate for increased access for school boards to broadband Internet connections in geographic areas where it is most needed.
  4. The ministry should update some areas of the education funding formula so that the right incentives are in place for boards to find a better balance between resources and expenditures.

The Ministry of Education intends to move ahead quickly to consider recommendations that can be implemented within existing requirements and resources and will consider other recommendations for future implementation.

Learn more about the working group's members and see Frequently Asked Questions.