The South East Cornerstone Public School Division has seen its enrolment numbers increase for the 2012-13 school year.
Director of education Dr. Marc Casavant didn't divulge specific numbers, but he confirmed the numbers for the first day of school were up from last year.
There has been an increase at three Estevan schools: the Estevan Comprehensive School, Spruce Ridge School and Pleasantdale School. Westview's numbers have remained stable, and Hillcrest is down a little.
"Seventy-one per cent of our schools (in South East Cornerstone) are showing increases, and about 29 per cent are showing decreases," said Casavant.
While numbers are up, Casavant said the enrolments haven't jumped as much as some might expect amidst the region's economic and population boom.
"Many rural school divisions are declining, but we're one of the ones that is growing," said Casavant.
Among the changes in the division this year is the development of a virtual school. Within the next two years, students from Grades 10 to 12 will be able to complete their Grade 12 equivalent on-line. The virtual school isn't just targeted to students in rural areas.
"It's interesting, from time to time, how students at the Comps (comprehensive schools), whether they're entry level, or something just misfits with some of the things that are going on there, we do get a number of students from the Comp schools in our school division applying to take courses on-line as well," said Casavant.
Development of the virtual school is in its early phases, but some courses are being offered.
The division is also trying to broaden the depth of what they offer to rural students through on-line learning opportunities.
SE Cornerstone is also nearing the end of their three-year plan, and after the election in October, the new elected school board will begin designing a four-year plan. Casavant said he could foresee the order of the top three priorities changing from assessment, mathematics and early learning, to math, early learning and assessment.
"Assessment will be more of a supportive role than a high-level priority role," said Casavant.
Graduation rates are also a priority for the Ministry of Education, so Casavant said he could see grad numbers becoming a priority for the board.
Capital projects in the division this year include the replacement of portions of the Estevan Comprehensive Schools roof, and the ongoing renovation at the Weyburn Comprehensive School. Phase 2 of the science labs in Weyburn was just completed, and he hopes all of Phase 1 can be finished by next August.