While student enrolment in the Kootenay-Columbia School District (SD20) climbed for the fourth straight year, the recently-released total showed the climb isn’t as pronounced as previous ones.
This year’s student enrolment in the district stands at 3,983, up 50 students from 2018.
That pales in comparison to an increase of 121 students in 2016. In 2017, there was a rise of 80 students and in 2018 there was 79 additional students.
School Superintendent Bill Ford said, in an email reply, the district is predicting that trend will continue over the next few years.
“Yes, we are projecting small growth over the next few years,” he said. “Projections are an art, not a science. We do our best to be accurate, and for the most we have been pretty accurate over the years.”
The good news is any increase means additional funding for the district. But the bad news is costs increased as well.
“Keep in mind that our costs went up with the additional teachers added,” he explained.
A closer breakdown in the district numbers shows the biggest increase in student population was at Twin Rivers Elementary in Castlegar, which added 36 students.
Other schools that reported more students this year were Castlegar’s Stanley Humphries Secondary School (SHSS), Rossland Summit School and Kinnaird Elementary in Castlegar. All recorded an increase of 16 students in each school.
The increased numbers saw additional classes added to Kinnaird, Twin Rivers and Rossland Summit, but Ford couldn’t specify in what grades the divisions were added.
Trail’s J.L. Crowe Secondary reported 34 additional students this year bringing its student body total to 826.
That number is just above the high school’s stated capacity of 825 when it was opened in 2009.
“They are 100-per-cent full,” said Ford. “That being said, the building was designed for that capacity.”
Crowe principal Aaron McKenzie told the Trail Times the school is well-equipped to handle the numbers.
“The school is obviously busy but it doesn’t feel overcrowded,” he said in an email reply.
The only other schools reporting a positive student gain were Webster Elementary in Warfield, which has an additional four students over last year’s total, and Kootenay Columbia Secondary School, which is the Alternate Ed program that also offers a high school program, added six students to its enrolment to bring it to 72 pupils.
Robson Community School was one of three schools reporting less students than in 2018, but it was only down by one student. Fruitvale Elementary School reported a drop of 18 students from last year’s total while Glenmerry School had five less students.
Overall totals for Castlegar schools saw SHSS with 590 pupils, Kinnaird Elementary with 374 students, Twin Rivers with 489 students and Robson Community with 167 students.
The overall numbers include 54 students, which were previously part of the Distance Learning program, but are now claimed differently.