The Waterloo Catholic District School Board is the eighth largest Catholic District School Board in Ontario, serving the ratepayers and students of Waterloo Region. The school system traces its history back more than 180 years, to the opening in 1836 of the first local Catholic schools. The latter half of the 2015-16 school year, and the first half of the 2016-17 school year, marked the conclusion of our 180th Anniversary celebrations.
In 2016-17, WCDSB had 45 elementary schools, five secondary schools, a four-campus Adult and Continuing Education program serving more than 13,000 adult learners, and an alternative education high school serving approximately 65 students via various programs.
There are 99 different languages spoken in Waterloo Region’s Catholic schools, representing students from 100 nations. Waterloo Region is the fourth area of choice for new Canadians. Accordingly, within our current enrolment, a significant number of students come from homes where English is not the first language. It is not a stretch to say Waterloo Region’s Catholic schools literally welcome the world to Catholic education.
The Board receives 95.7% of its revenue through the Grants for Student Needs. These grants are primarily based on forecasted student enrolment. Given the complexity of enrolment projections, the Board leans heavily on the collective wisdom of cross-functional enrolment committees to ensure thorough analysis and a collaborative approach underpin the projections.
Despite all of the good work of the enrolment committees — and a shift away from a traditionally conservative approach to enrolment projection methodology — enrolment for 2016-17 far outpaced all of the Board’s projections, finally settling at 21,455 regular day school students (a 464 student increase from 2015-16), plus 172 international students. Consistent with previous years, growth is attributed to demographic shifts, immigration and a modification of the Board’s admission procedure.
Looking forward to 2017-18, the pattern of strong growth is expected to continue, with initial projections estimated at 22,090 students.