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Student enrolment decline levels off

Population growth reflected with final count in, district says
October 6, 2015 11:08 A.M.

A final count confirms that enrolment in Kamloops-Thompson School District remains in decline, but the drop in student numbers is far lower than forecast, which bodes well for provincial funding and community growth

“We’re much better than forecast in terms of enrolment,” said superintendent Karl DeBruijn.

That’s a considerable difference from what was anticipated. 

A drop of 386 students was projected according to Grade 12 graduations and kindergarten entries. Therefore, the only possible explanation for the discrepancy is population growth — more young families moving into the area. Speculation has it that many of those families may have migrated from Alberta due to a slump in the oil sector.

For example, there is a spike in the number of Grade 3 students, which rose to 1,100 from 976 last year.

“There are areas that have gone up more than just a bit. It’s an indication that people are moving into the area.”

The Grade 12 enrolment count stands at 1,255, while the kindergarten figure is 990, so the pattern of decline over the past 15 years continues but at a reduced rate.

“If nothing had changed, we’d still be down 265 kids,” DeBruijn said.

Ten additional teachers were hired last month when initial numbers came in, indicating the projected count might be off-target. Additional blocks are also being added at some schools.

Signs of population growth are not confined to Kamloops, he noted. The pattern is also evident in North Thompson communities. Barriere elementary is up by 15 students to a total of 237. However, Barriere secondary is down 17 students, representing a net decline of just two students but an influx of young families. Similarly, Clearwater secondary is down by 28 students, but Raft River elementary in the same community is up by eight.

In Kamloops, Brock Middle school is up by 52 students, or the equivalent of two additional classes, and Arthur Hatton is up by 36, meaning two more teachers are needed.

Arthur Hatton elementary, which has had declining enrolment since well before it was blended with John Tod elementary, is now seeing a reversal. Student enrolment at Arthur Hatton rose to 278 from 200.

The student count was problematic this year due to new software adopted by the Ministry of Education

“We struggled a bit this year getting the numbers together because of the new student information system,” DeBruijn said. “Compare to last year at this time, we’re only down 51 students.”

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