There are no surprises in School District 73 enrolment figures released Wednesday, but there is proof that a long-term decline in student numbers is beginning to level off.
Otherwise, a drop of 92 secondary students and 58 elementary students this year wouldn’t be seen as a positive.
The numbers indicate that long-term forecasting by the district is close to the mark, said superintendent Terry Sullivan.
The district had forecast a drop of 227 secondary students in 2013-2014.
“It’s still down, but it’s just not as far down as predicted,” he said. “It’s leveling off, but we always predicted it would level off in 2013, and that’s what’s happening.”
Since year 2000, the district has been counting on a turnaround. A slight blip in the birth rate is expected to help boost the number of children reaching school age.
The trend is expected to continue until 2018-2019, when student numbers will level off again until 2030.
Variations in enrolment present a challenge to administrators as they attempt to balance teaching resources with students in the classroom.
In support of elementary enrolment, the district has hired four new elementary teachers, four additional classroom teachers and some additional staff for literacy and learning assistance. As well, there are 40 new on-call teachers, many of whom will be absorbed through the course of the year. That will add to the current complement of 1,100 teachers in the district.
Sullivan said the shift doesn’t mean the district plans to re-open schools shuttered several years ago due to enrolment decline. Those schools were built to accommodate a districtwide enrolment of 20,000 whereas the figure now stands at 14,617.
“We’ve got a lot of space. It isn’t always where we want it.”
Kamloops-Thompson is not unique in this regard.
“We’re kind of a microcosm of what’s happening nationally.”