While most of School District No. 54 – Bulkley Valley’s (SD54) facilities are operating between just under half and two-thirds capacity, Muheim Memorial Elementary School (MMES) is currently at capacity.
At their 2019-2020 facilities review held last month SD54 board members gave their annual update on the district’s facilities, including age, capacity and other proposed, pending or ongoing upgrades to the buildings.
MMES is the only school in the district operating at capacity.
Walnut Park Elementary School (WPES) is at 78 per cent capacity.
By contrast, Hazelton Secondary School is only operating at 47 per cent capacity.
Discussing the variation in enrollment numbers between the schools, SD54 secretary treasurer Dave Margerm raised the issue of contrast in numbers between Telkwa Elementary School (TES) — currently at 56 per cent capacity and more crowded schools such as MMES and WPES.
The district has previously allowed students from Telkwa to apply to attend these schools even if they didn’t live in the catchment area (the geographic area from which a school’s students are drawn).
However discussing the high numbers at MMES and WPES Margerm suggested the language for SD54’s cross catchment program might have to be revisited if enrollment at the two schools continues to approach or hits capacity.
“We do have the option to restrict movement,” he said.
Conversely, Margerm also pointed out the WPES rebuild should help alleviate some space issues as the renovation will increase the school’s capacity by a little over 20 per cent — from its current 360 spaces to around 440.
Discussing overall enrollment trends, the board noted while Houston schools were, on average, sitting at around 54 per cent enrollment that the town is currently trending upward for enrolment.
Projections suggest that following a 45 per cent enrolment decline in Houston over the past three decades enrolment is slated to increase up to a projected number of 577 students in 2027.
Earlier this year the district projected a four per cent decline in enrolment for 2019-2020.