School District 27 enrolment has dropped by 143 students this year and 80 of those students were lost due to the prolonged teacher strike, reports Superintendent Mark Thiessen.
“Some parents who wanted their children to be attending school at the beginning of September found other options for their children when the beginning of the public school year was delayed by a few weeks,” Thiessen says.
“We are hopeful that many of these students will return next year now that we know we will have labour peace for the next five years.”
Thiessen says total student enrolment for the 2014-15 school year is 4,574 compared to 4,717 students in 2013-14.
He says the district has seen seven and eight per cent drops in enrolment in a number of the larger schools in the district including Lake City Secondary, Peter Skene Ogden Secondary, Cataline Elementary, 100 Mile House Elementary, and Mile 108 Elementary.
“We have surprisingly seen an increase in a few of our rural schools where enrolment had dropped significantly in past years,” Thiessen says.
Thiessen also addressed the impact of closing and reconfiguring schools over the last couple of years in order to balance the district’s budget provided by the Ministry of Education.
“Due to the reconfiguration of schools prior to last school year, we saw temporary increases in enrolment at Chilcotin Road Elementary, Cataline Elementary, and Nesika Elementary,” Thiessen says.
“Portables were added at Chilcotin Road and Nesika to deal with the significant increases in students. Already this year we have seen those numbers begin to drop. Nesika is the exception to this as we have seen increases to our French Immersion, so Nesika has no extra classroom space.”
He notes the district has been steadily losing students for a number of years.
“We have projected an enrolment decrease of anywhere between 100-200 students every year, so the decline this year is similar to what we’ve seen over the past 10 to 15 years.
“One reason for that is that more Grade 12 students graduate than we add in Kindergarten students each year.”