That works out to approximately 80 students.
Secretary treasurer for SD54 Dave Margerm says that while the projections might be considered a “significant decrease” they are conservative estimates made so that the district does not go over budget.
“Generally, net enrollment increases throughout the year,” Margerm said. He adds that the issue of predicting enrollment is a complex one due to a number of factors including birth rates, employment, housing, and immigration. “Regional estimates project that the population decline should be stabilizing, although this has not been the case the last few years,” said Margerm, adding that the statistics paint a very different picture depending on where you look in the district. “Telkwa has experienced increasing enrollment, Houston has generally been stable in student population, and Smithers has maintained a declining enrollment.”
Margerm says that no specific reason has been identified for this decreasing enrollment, but that kindergarten intake levels have generally decreased relative to other grades, especially Grade 12 students leaving SD54.
The news comes as board members announced a drafted budget on Tuesday which, if passed, would see a decrease in regular funding due to the decline. Overall funding, however, would still increase by just under $130,000.