Despite an overall three per cent decline in student enrolment, the Fraser-Cascade school district is experiencing its highest kindergarten registration in nine years.
The current preliminary headcount shows there are 1,692 students registered, down 52 students from the same time last year. However, kindergarten numbers are currently sitting at 134, up from 102 in 2012.
“We are down overall but it isn’t as significant as what we had projected,” said secretary treasurer Natalie Lowe-Zucchet, adding that there’s about 20 more full-time equivalent students in the district than expected.
“The kindergarten intake is hugely encouraging. It’s nice to start to see an improvement, we hope it lasts.”
The school district is currently seeing more elementary school students entering classrooms, while an anticipated decline at the secondary school level continues. Lowe-Zucchet said enrolment fluctuates regularly due to a fairly transient population in the school district.
“We also have a number of other alternatives in our neighbourhood with the band schools,” she added.
“Some years we are more heavily subscribed to than others. It just depends on people’s choice.”
This year’s budget is currently on par with 2012-2013 at $20.8 million. Lowe-Zucchet said the decline in overall government funding has been offset using surplus funds. As the district loses funding, it’s been able to make adjustments “without impacting class size and support too much.”
“We are still on funding protection,” she added.
“Since we know in advance the amount of money we’re working with, we’re somewhat stable and able to manage more effectively.”
A priority for the district this year is working with schools to develop innovative learning opportunities for students. About $200,000 in reserved funding from previous years has been invested into 21st Century Learning initiatives.
“It’s extremely exciting because each of the schools have put in proposals on what their interests are, where they want concentrate some of their professional development and what they want to make priorities at the schools,” explained Lowe-Zucchet.
Final school enrolment numbers will be released in October.