Enrolment drops in Fraser-Cascade school district

Changing community demographics a major factor in decline

Fewer elementary school students are entering local classrooms this year.

The latest headcount shows overall enrolment in the Fraser-Cascade school district has declined four per cent from 2011, with the majority of registered students in Grades 8-12.

“We still have bigger classes in high schools than what we’re enrolling in kindergarten,” said secretary treasurer Natalie Lowe-Zucchet.

“The drop is a little more severe than I thought it would be, but it has been an ongoing trend. We had forecast this several years back, and anticipate this is going to continue for the next few years and start leveling out in about 2016.”

The preliminary enrolment figures released on Monday show 1,822 students are registered this year, down 75 from the same time last year. Lowe-Zucchet attributes this change to families moving out of communities in the district.

“Obviously it’s been an ongoing challenge for the board,” she said.

“Their concern of course is still providing quality education and making sure that we have the resources we need. They’ve done their advocacy in terms of making sure that some of the funding is maintained.”

This year’s budget is projected at $21.6 million. Lowe-Zucchet said government funding was reduced by about $300,000 this year, but was “easily absorbed” by the significant decline in enrolment.

“Right now I think everybody feels a little bit like we’re under-resourced or underfunded, but it’s not like we can’t make it happen,” she added.

“Over the years we have cut back a little bit on programs and services, but we’ve tried to maintain levels. I’m hoping parents won’t see a change in the classroom this year.”

Final enrolment numbers will be released in mid-October.