Declining Enrolment Working Group

Frequently Asked Questions

What was the Declining Enrolment Working Group going to do?

The Declining Enrolment Working Group was asked to evaluate how well the current supports for declining enrolment and small rural schools are working. The government provides funding to help cushion the impact of declining enrolment and wants to make sure that funding is in the right place.

How was membership decided?

The members were approached for their expertise in their individual fields. The majority are senior school board officials who deal with the challenges of declining enrolment on a daily basis.

Members were selected from across Ontario and are drawn from the English, French, public and Catholic education systems. As well, a representative of municipal governments was included to help address the relationship between schools and their communities.

How did the working group develop their report?

The working group consulted with key education partners about the ideas and practices that would work best to ensure students are getting the support they need, even as the number of students is dropping. The working group also reviewed the literature, policies and programs in other jurisdictions, and looked for feedback from key education partners about current best practices in schools boards.

The working group also examined opportunities for co-operation between schools and other schools and community or public service agencies. This kind of co-operation can help make small schools more vital and cost efficient.

Will there be a moratorium on closures while the government implements the working group's report?

The government is not implementing a moratorium on school closures. It continues to be the responsibility of school boards to make capital decisions about schools. Existing guidelines enable boards to work with their communities to evaluate how to best support today's students based on the value of the school to the students, boards, community and local economy.

Demographic changes and evolving educational practices mean that school boards have to review accommodations on an on-going basis. Using this consultative approach, school boards will continue to make decisions regarding the number, locations and composition of their schools.

Does the government plan to implement the group's recommendations?

The government intends to move quickly and consider implementation of recommendations from the report that can be accomplished within existing requirements and resources. Declining enrolment is a shared challenge that needs shared solutions. We will be working with boards, municipalities, provincial ministries and other levels of government to support necessary changes in education.

Recommendations that require further policy development and/or new resources to implement will be considered as part the Ministry of Education's work with education partners during annual reviews and refinements of education funding grants.