Minister Lecce supportive of non-Catholic students attending Catholic schools

Ontario’s education minister is out with a statement of support for non-Catholic students to attend Catholic schools in the region.

This comes after the Waterloo Catholic District School Board projects a dramatic increase in students attending their schools locally.

Current projections shows elementary school enrollment will increase from 18,810 in 2023 to 23,578 by 2027/2028 and 29,294 by 2032/2033, an increase of 56 per cent.

Secondary schools could see an even larger jump from 7,846 to 8,923 by 2027/2028 and 12,479 by 2032/2033, an increase of 59 per cent.

The Waterloo Catholic District School Board will also receive more funding from the provincial government.

Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce said to CityNews 570 in an email statement on Thursday that the school board will receive an increase in funding over the current year.

“We proudly support public, Catholic, and French schools. Our government’s expectation is that all school boards refocus on academic achievement and go back to basics. To support growing communities in Waterloo, we have provided the Waterloo Catholic District School Board with $351 million in funding for the 2024-25 school year, an increase of nearly $19.2 million from the current year. We will continue to respect a parent’s ability to choose where their child gets their education.”

Section 93 of the Constitution Act, 1867, protects the denominational rights of Ontario Roman Catholics to manage and control the denominational aspect of Catholic schools.

“The Ministry of Education continues to respect the constitutional and statutory framework for public education in Ontario, which includes English-language public, English-language separate, French-language public and French-language separate school boards.”

The ministry goes on to say “school boards are corporations that are governed by locally elected trustees and are responsible for the daily operation of their schools. As part of their responsibilities, school boards must develop and implement policies and procedures for admission of students in their schools.”

The detailed requirements for the right to attend are outlined in the Education Act and are different for elementary and secondary schools

“All school boards have the discretion to waive these requirements and accept students that don’t have a right to attend a board, subject to their own admission policies and procedures.”

The Ministry of Education added that it does not monitor the attendance trends at individual school boards.

“This information would be available from individual school boards.”

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