Once forecast as the year enrolment declines would turn to growth for School District 73, 2013-14 is expecting to bring another drop in secondary students.
"Our projection, based on the budget, is that there will be 227 fewer students," said district superintendent Terry Sullivan. "But our challenge now is all over secondary students; elementary enrolment has increased for each of the past two years."
That's the good news — growth is working its way through the system, a trend expected to continue until 2018-2019, when the student population will level off until 2030.
Sullivan doesn't feel the secondary school decline will be as great as 227, however, that won't make it any easier to realign resources to match the new enrolment.
"We can't take a Grade 12 teacher, displaced because of declining enrolment, and put him in charge of a kindergarten class."
The projections are done scientifically, incorporating a variety of databases, but they can't account for economic wild cards, he noted.
"It's been pretty accurate because since we've been saying since 2000 that this (turnaround) is going to occur."
After school resumes Tuesday, it will take the better part of September to determine an accurate count, he said.
In support of elementary increases, the district has hired about 40 new on-call teachers. Many of them will be absorbed as full-time equivalents during the course of the year, adding to the current complement of 1,100 teachers in Kamloops-Thompson.
"We find we usually have to do another teacher-on-call intake in the fall and after Christmas. We're still hiring. There's still teachers' jobs out there in communities across the province."
This year is the fourth in the district's five-year plan, which is 90 per cent complete, Sullivan said.
"Right now we're concentrating on opening day," he added, having just met with district principals.
If parents or students have any questions about resumption of school, they should contact their local school or view the district website (sd73.bc.ca).
Despite speculation through the summer, the year is expected to get underway without labour disruption. Bargaining with the B.C. Teachers Federation is not forecast to resume until October because the union continues to pursue the right to bargain on the issue of class size.
Talks with CUPE over support workers are proceeding and both sides maintain they're determined to avoid a strike.