At last week’s inaugural meeting Superintendent for School District 20 Greg Luterbach said the district’s enrolment continues to decline.
He said the board was not too surprised by the fact that 85 less students are currently enrolled than this time last year.
Luterbach commented that this is a recurring trend and although they were hoping they were reaching the bottom of the decline, numbers have been dropping since before he arrived at the board ten years ago.
“When we started kindergarten enrolment last February we knew our kindergarten numbers would be less than we projected and so slowly over the summer we revised them down so it wasn’t a complete surprise. We sorta had our fingers crossed hoping for more though,” he added.
As the school district is under funding protection this will not affect the funds they receive.
Luterbach said, “The government has guaranteed no matter how many students, we get a baseline.”
In addition the district won’t see any facility changes based on the enrolment numbers.
Out of these 85 students the board stated that 50 of them came from kindergarten.
He elaborated on how they come up with this data.
“So, what we do is we get the birth data from Interior Health and then over the last seven years we look at how many kids are born in that area. Then ultimately how many kids, four or five years later end up in kindergarten. So we look at that trend and then project how many kids will be at each one of the schools based on the Interior Health data.”
He added, “Sometimes it’s above, sometimes below; that’s why we call them projections.”
On a more positive note, the province will be providing labour settlement dispute money in the amount of $617,301 dollars to the school district to help cover salary, benefits, and other increases.
However, Luterbach said this funding is a one time deal.
What the ministry has done is provide an amount of funding to each district in the province but this funding is a one time thing so the board won’t be able to progress much further with budget planning until the middle of March when the funding amount is announced.
“Until we know the funding numbers we can’t get too far ahead of ourselves,” he commented.