Accurate enrolment projections are important to school boards, because provincial grants are tied to these numbers.
Sudbury Catholic actually incurred a $2.5-million deficit in 2011-2012 partly because it had about 75 fewer students than it had originally projected. The board is still trying to get itself back into the black.
The Baragar Systems software program is used by about 100 school boards in the country, according to Terry Papineau, Sudbury Catholic's superintendent of school effectiveness.
“The projections that they do have been almost bang on the money for all of their clients,” he said. “It appears as if it's a very good system.”
In the past, board staff made their own enrolment projections. But Baragar's Demographic Dynamics program uses Census Canada data to look at factors such as birth and residency statistics.
Other Baragar applications include GeoSchool, which displays on a digital street map, where students live, allowing boards to look at the impact of boundary changes, school openings/closures and program relocations.
ThemeMap uses government data to examine the characteristics of certain schools — for example, the socioeconomic status of students' families.
Papineau explains this application will allow the board to identify its “neediest schools,” and where more resources need to be allocated.
Finally, the Staff Allocator application shows how each school should be staffed in the most cost-effective manner, given contractual and educational parameters concerning class size and composition.
“I think it's going to be valueable,” Papineau said. “We're going to be able to rely on factual, very precise data information to allow us to make better-informed decisions.”