The question about why the enrolment projections presented by the Board in public presentations and the enrolment projections being quoted by the Petite Riviere School Advisory Council (SAC) are different is somewhat complicated to understand. However, the answer is simple. The data used by both are correct.
The Board is required by Provincial School Review Policy to develop a Long Range Outlook (LRO). In SSRSB, the enrolment projection data in the initial LRO (2014/15) was calculated using a provincially mandated, interim method. The province was, at the time, searching for an expert demographic provider to do enrolment projections for all boards, but an interim method was mandated. In boards across the province, future enrolment projections for Long Range Outlooks were based upon September 30 enrolments in schools. The SSRSB Board has repeatedly stated in public that the source of their enrolment projections is the Long Range Outlook. References to the source of projections have always been noted.
When the Board initiated a school review for Bridgewater and Parkview Families of Schools in October 2015, a School Options Committee (SOC) was formed. The Provincial School Review Policy indicates that the SOC must be provided with a comprehensive School Profile for each school in the families being reviewed. This profile must provide details about historical, current, and projected enrolment. Projections used in the School Profiles were calculated using the same methodology as was used in the Long Range Outlook. It should be noted that, the reference point for the calculation was based on September 30, 2015 – a year later than the reference point for the Long Range Outlook projections.
Representatives from the Petite Riviere Elementary School have been quoting the enrolment projections developed for the School Options Committee. The SSRSB Board has been quoting projections developed in the Long Range Outlook. Both are correct. Each is based upon a different reference point.
In February 2017, the SSRSB Board was provided with new enrolment projection data based upon enrolments in 2016/2017. Data was provided by a provincially approved company, Barager. This was shared at the February 22 meeting of the Board.
The Province hired Barager to do enrol data analysis on an annual basis, in all NS Boards beginning this year. They did so because the company uses a complex scientific methodology (see attached document) based on many factors including Provincial Vital Statistics (Birth Registry), Canada Revenue Agency and the School Board Student Information System (SIS). Their enrolment projections are much more accurate than those calculated by school boards using the September 30 data. It is coincidence only, the projections calculated by the Board for the Long Range Outlook using 2014/2015 enrolments and the projections calculated by Barager using 2016/2017 data are similar.
Finally, it should be noted that the decision made four years ago to close Petite Riviere Elementary School was based upon a number of factors - low enrolment was only one factor.