School District 20: Student numbers continue to fall

Lower enrollment for future classes could mean less funding for Greater Trail schools.

Class size numbers are on a downward spiral in School District 20.

The Class of 2012 could be one of the largest graduating classes the school district will see for a few years as the number of school-aged children continues to drop in the Kootenay Columbia region.

According to figures released by SD20 administration, 346 students are set to graduate this year, compared to only 336 Grade 11s, and 323 Grade 10s. With the Ministry of Education tying its funding formula to the number of students a district possesses, the situation is of concern if the number of students continues to dwindle.

To make matters worse, school trustee Toni Driutti noted there were only 277 students enrolled in kindergarten this year.

“It looks like we are going to enter into crisis here … that means those are the total graduates for the whole of the district,” she said.

With the district losing 40 students from its graduating class within the next three years — and over 60 in the next decade — the enrolment situation is not improving and could force the school district to consider more cuts.

The numbers grow bleaker with 318 Grade 9 students and 306 students in Grade 8, and all seven elementary grade classes are well below the 300 mark, the lowest total being 233 Grade 4 students.

The future may not be improving too much as kindergarten enrollment is down with 250 kids signed up for next year, said Greg Luterbach, superintendent of schools.

Originally the school district projected 296 kindergarten students for next year, but recently had to revise it down to 286.

“Typically, we won’t pick up another 46 students and even 36 will be a stretch,” he said.

Overall enrolment figures for the year have remained steady since the first figures were released in September, with 3,969 students enrolled throughout the district in all programs.

But there was a shift within the district, said Luterbach. There were 44 fewer students enrolled in regular classes while alternate education saw a rise of 44 students.

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