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Hill Park’s loss not renamed Barton’s enrolment gain

Most students shifting to other schools, board projections show

By Richard Leitner, News Staff

Hill Park Secondary School’s closure is only expected to boost enrolment at Barton by about 174 this fall as more than two-thirds of students choose to go elsewhere.

Staff projections provided to the Mountain News show Sir Allan MacNab Secondary Schoolwill gain 163 students from Hill Park, pushing overall enrolment to 1,043, an increase of nearly 180.

Barton and Hill Park presently have a combined enrolment of 1,205, but only 710 students are expected to attend Barton when it reopens this fall as Nora Frances Henderson Secondary School.

Eighty-eight HillPark students are shifting to Sherwood, helping its enrolment hold steady at about 1,000, while 24 will transfer to Westmount, which will still see overall enrolment drop by 10 to 1,469.

Ten Hill Park students have selected schools outside of the Mountain catchment, with Sir John A. Macdonald getting the most of these at five.

Executive superintendent Pam Reinholdt said other factors affecting Henderson’s projected enrolment include that Barton students who now fall within Sherwood’s boundaries were given the choice of going there or staying put.

Some Hill Park students may also have chosen to go to Catholic schools rather than take a long bus ride to Henderson, she said.

Reinholdt said she’s confident Henderson’s low enrolment isn’t a bad omen for its replacement school, to be built by the corner ofUpper Sherman Street and Rymal Road, because 90 per cent of the 1,250 students will be able to walk there.

It’s scheduled to open in September 2016.

“Where the Nora Henderson is located right now, we are busing 70 to 80 per cent of the students,” Reinholdt said. “So right now, part of the difficulty is that the students have to take busing,” she said. “Once the kids can walk to school we’ll draw them back.”

Based on student option sheets, staff projections show Mountain Secondary’s enrolment will climb to 195 this September from the present 128 even though the school is phasing out Grade 9 as it prepares for eventual closure in 2017.

Reinholdt said the jump is largely due to an influx of students from Parkview, the board’s only other vocational school, which is closing at the end of this month.

Overall secondary enrolment is on track to decline by 668 students next fall, 122 more than accounted for by a drop in the number of available students.

Reinholdt said the extra 122 students are those who haven’t registered to return, possibly because they’ve opted for the Catholic board, decided against returning for a fifth year or are leaving school for other reasons, like work.

“Certainly, we’ll continue to track where they’re going to go or where they have registered,” she said.

Over the summer Barton will get a number of upgrades as it is reinvented as Henderson. Beyond painting and repairs, these include new signage, refinishing the gym floor with a new logo, and the creation of autism, nutrition, resource and staff rooms.

Sherwood’s tile gym floors will be replaced with wood ones, while MacNab will get a new sports field and track as part of a lengthier list of work, including a new dance studio and auditorium sound booth to accommodate the transfer of the arts and culture specialty program from Hill Park.

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