Prairie Post (East Edition)

Smelling like a (prairie) rose: rural enrollment way up

- By Anna Smith Commentato­r/Courier

Prairie Rose Public Schools is seeing a significan­t upswing in enrollment this year, far exceeding projection­s.

Like most divisions, Prairie Rose waits until the end of September to consider their numbers settled, as the first month of the school year can be tumultuous for students moving into or out of the division, said Ryan Boser, Chief Financial Officer of Prairie Rose.

“Sometimes there’s some movement in our schools, you know, that we might get new students that come to our schools during the month of September,” said Boser. “At the end of September, they’re firm... they are what they are at that point. And typically each year there is a little bit of change from the beginning of the month to the end of the month. Not significan­t. But there is some.”

This year, the division has projected a growth of approximat­ely nine students, throughout the division. What they received was far greater.

“So we had predicted that in the 2022–2023 school year, there was going to be an increase of 9.5 full-time equivalent students from our previous year’s actual numbers in 2021–2022,” said Boser. “Then what happened is we weren’t only 9.5, we were an extra 37 and a half above the nine and a half. So what it ended up being in total, from one year to the next was a 47 full-time equivalent student increase in the 2022–2023 school year.”

This is significan­t, as in previous years, many rural divisions have been seeing slow declines as families move into urban areas. Boser said that in his eight years with Prairie Rose, he hasn’t seen any increases like this.

“Seeing an increase for us is really positive. I think it says a lot about the amazing teachers that we have in our division; the amazing education assistants and the rest of the support staff at schools. And just the amount of work they put into giving our kids the best education experience possible,” said Boser.

The most significan­t increases have been seen at schools that have Prairie Rose Possibilit­ies programmin­g, said Boser, speaking to the strength and appeal of the unique offerings.

“Some of the new programmin­g that’s been implemente­d around the division over the last number of years whether it be flight, rodeo, hockey academies, Art Institutes,” said Boser. “Those different kinds of things that have been implemente­d over the last number of years, those have all made what we believe significan­t impacts to our enrollment numbers and ultimately, kids wanting to come to Prairie Rose schools.”

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