Enrolment numbers for the Coast Mountains School District (CMSD) are down from last year, with district officials saying that it’s difficult to predict how an improving economy is affecting the public school population.
Full-time enrolment for kindergarten through Grade 12, excluding home school students, in the CMSD taken at the end of September stood at 4714.
That’s down from 4851 in September 2012.
CMSD superintendent Nancy Wells says this overall drop in students wasn’t necessarily what the district was anticipating.
“We like our projections to be accurate,” Wells said. “In our area, there’s a lot of unknowns happening right now because of the economic development. Some people think that’s going to drive more students, and, actually, it doesn’t necessarily. It’s been very hard to project this year because of things happening in of our communities.”
One example Wells gives of this instability is the rent increases that have been happening in the Terrace area.
“Particularly in the downtown, Horseshoe core, we’ve lost families to other communities who can no longer afford to rent in Terrace.
“That’s impacted our overall numbers – and we didn’t expect that,” she said.
“We’re really sorry to lose those families because for a lot of our schools, those kids were an important part of our schools, they’re doing really well, they know their teachers, and then they have to move.”
For the two downtown elementary schools, overall enrolment has dropped, with 209 students at Cassie Hall last year, and 197 students this year. Suwilaawks Community school has 221 students this year compared with 252 last year.
Terrace’s French immersion school, Ecole Mountainview, has a higher number of overall students – 171 compared with 151, in part because of extra kindergarten spaces added this year.
Uplands’ enrolment has also increased, with 309 students enrolled last year and 315 this year.
Thornhill Elementary saw 159 students last year, comparable to the 154 enrolled this year. Thornhill Primary saw 225 students last year, which this year increased to 244.
And at Skeena Middle School this year, the school’s second year with Grade 7 through Grade 9, there are 585 students, down from last year’s 628. Parkside Secondary had 133 spaces filled last year, with 120 this year.
Caledonia Secondary has 661 students for 2013/2014, down from 720.25 last year.
Meanwhile, the school district is readying for a number of high-level staffing changes.
Brent Speidel, director of instruction, school support, is leaving at the end of December to take a position at Northwest Community College. His replacement is expected to be announced in the coming weeks, along with a new director of human resources and director of aboriginal education.
A new superintendent is also expected to be announced in January, as Wells’ contract is up at the end of this school year.