School district enrollment lower than expected

Enrollment in School District No. 20 is lower than expected so far this year, but that won't impact funding.

Enrollment in School District No. 20 is lower than anticipated so far this year.

Monday night the school board met in Trail and an update on enrollment was part of the agenda.

The board usually looks at enrollment, but this was the first report for this year and it showed that so far the district has 18.652 fewer full-time equivalent students than expected.

How full-time equivalent students translate to actual students is a tad complicated.

Students from kindergarden to grade 9 are counted once per student, but while the report shows a head-count for students in grades 10 to 12, the number of full-time equivalent students is based on the number of credits each student in those grades is registered for.

“What the ministry does is from grade 10 to 12 … we get .125 for every course a student takes, so if they take eight courses, we get 1.0 full time equivalent students,” explains Greg Luterbach, superintendent of schools. “But if a student takes band off the timetable or after school, or strength and conditioning before school, what we get is in some cases we’ll have kids that will take nine, ten or eleven courses, and we get funded appropriately.”

Students taking extra courses are counted as more than one full-time equivalent student, while students who take fewer than eight courses are counted as less than one.

Which may help to explain some of the shortage.

“It’s still not the end of September, [and] our secondary schools are working feverishly to get those last credits and work experience courses loaded, and all those kinds of things,” says Luterbach. “And given that we’re also in the middle of implementing a new student information system, which has been running very slow, I’m not surprised if those numbers are a little bit down.”

The shortages are mostly at the secondary level, like at Stanley Humphries Secondary School, where enrollment is 18.2 full-time equivalent students less than expected.

Elementary schools on the other hand are higher than expected. Twin Rivers has 15 more students than expected and Kinnaird Elementary is up by eight.

The district even added two new elementary school teachers this year at Rossland Summit School and Fruitvale Elementary to account for higher enrollment.

Overall, Luterbach isn’t worried. The district doesn’t have to submit a final number to the Ministry of Education until Oct. 2, by which time secondary students will have hopefully sorted out all their credits, and even then the small decrease in enrollment isn’t enough to negatively impact funding.

“Normally the biggest factor for what we get for funding … is the number of full-time equivalent students we have,” said Luterbach. “But … the Ministry of Education has this thing called funding protection, and funding protection means that no matter how many students less we have they will guarantee us that we get at least 98.5 per cent of what we had last year.”