Numbers show increase
School District 57 Trustee Betty Bekkering brought some brightness to a winter board meeting.
“We’re starting to see some daylight,” the chair of the education services committee said after presenting a report on projected enrolment in the district.
The report forecasts enrolment for the years 2012-2017, and shows an increase, stating in 2015.
“None of us could quite believe it,” she says of seeing the numbers. “We knew it was going to plateau, but we weren’t sure when.”
The report uses the same methodology as previous reports, taking the birth rate and working with that to figure out what the kindergarten intake will be for a future year.
“They work with a figure of 85 to 90 per cent of the children born in a given year will end up in kindergarten.”
The forecast indicates a figure of 12,394 students for the current school year, falling to 12,140 by 2015, then moving up to 12,200 by 2017.
“This is such a nice change from a few years ago,” Bekkering says, “when we were closing schools like crazy in the district.”
The report also included how projected enrolments compared to the capacity of each school in the district. While the report shows there will still be more than 4,000 spaces vacant across the district in 2017, Bekkering said there may be individual schools where things could be different.
“Some parents are choosing a different school for their children. We’re seeing French Immersion numbers explode, and it’s hard to recruit French Immersion teachers. We constantly have our eyes open for teachers who are willing to come here to teach.”
She doesn’t think the district will have to put a population cap on any schools, but says some kindergartens may face caps.
“That may mean a student or two will have to go to kindergarten at another school, but, in Prince George, that’s not usually a great distance.”
At this point, she says, there may be a need for a portable at one or two schools to handle an excess of students.